Enercon warns wind industry after losing Indian patents fight

INDIA: Enercon has claimed the intellectual property rights of international wind manufacturers operating in India could be at risk, following a judge’s decision to dismiss the company’s ownership of a dozen wind turbine patents.

EIL counts the E53 among its product range
EIL counts the E53 among its product range

India’s patent court (IPAB) has declared void 12 Enercon-owned patents. Although the patents are registered with authorities in Europe, Canada and the US, the board dismissed them as "demonstrating lack of novelty" and "representing no real innovation."

In response, Enercon lawyer Stefan Knottnerus-Meyer said: "The IPAB decisions were partly based on the argument that India’s national interest has priority over patent rights. With this argument, almost every patent could be declared void in the name of India’s development interests."

The driving force behind the case against Enercon was the German company’s own Indian subsidiary Enercon India (EIL).

The relationship between the two companies has become increasingly acrimonious since 2005, 11 years after EIL was set up. This culminated in 2007, when Enercon’s own representatives were effectively excluded from the EIL board.

Since then, co-operation between the two companies has stopped and Enercon has disowned the 800kW turbines being built by EIL. For its part, EIL is still highlighting its connection with the Enercon brand on its website (see below).

From the EIL website: despite the court case Enercon India is still highlighting its connection with its German parent

Knottnerus-Meyer said: "These [turbines] are not approved by Enercon and liability issues may start to pop up. We want to make it clear that EIL is nothing to do with Enercon."

A further seven Enercon-owned patents are set to come before the IPAB in March. It fears a similar result with arise.

In response, EIL managing director Yogesh Mehra said his company was compelled to go to court over the patents.

Mehra said: "It does seem very contradictory for EIL to challenge the Enercon patents but we were forced to do it. After all, it is also strange when the chairman of EIL [Enercon chairman Aloys Wobben] decides to sue the Indian company for violation of patents."

"The patents are a misnomer, the content is prior knowledge," he stated, adding that the voidance of the patents "will not affect our business."

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