MHI claims GE anti-trust fight 'shutting down sales'

US: Legal challenges from General Electric (GE) have made it almost impossible for developers to obtain financing for projects using Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) flagship 2.4MW variable-speed turbine, according to Filiberto Agusti, one of the lawyers representing MHI in its fight over intellectual property with GE.

MHI's controversial 2.4MW wind turbine

Agusti was speaking at a recent hearing in federal court in Arkansas on GE's motion to dismiss MHI’s anti-trust case against GE. "We are effectively shut down (without financing)," Agusti told the court. "A lot of people are watching this case."

Agusti also reiterated a claim made by MHI in the Japanese company’s anti-trust complaint: that MHI has gone from $2 billion in annual US sales of its 2.4MW turbine to almost zero because of GE’s suits against MHI alleging infringement of five patents.

MHI accuses GE of purposefully trying to undermine its business by using patents as legal weapons to create uncertainty about MHI’s product, the 2.4MW turbine.

"[GE’s] goal is not so much to win cases as to keep the ball in the air," Agusti told Judge Leon Holmes, reported local media. GE is arguing that the anti-trust case should be stayed until other patent litigation between the two rivals is settled.

The $1billion battle between MHI and GE consists of four lawsuits. The legal cases are likely to last for many more months, unless there is a settlement.  The first of GE’s 2.5MW turbines will be installed in the US in 2011.

MHI has announced a $100million assembly plant for its disputed 2.4MW turbine in Arkansas with construction to start in early 2011, which it says may lie empty if it cannot sell 2.4MW turbines.

Separately, Thomas Wilkins, the alleged co-inventor of GE’s ‘985 patent for low-voltage ride-through technology (LVRT), has agreed not to expand or modify his licensing agreement with MHI for LVRT or for continuous reactive power control—inventions that he claims to be legally able to license -- until GE’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Wilkins has been heard in court.

Wilkins and GE are locked in battle in federal court in California over the technology, which is registered to GE.  GE has accused MHI of violating its LVRT patent.