MHI factory sits idle amid GE patent fight

UNITED STATES: The first of Mitsubishi's 'patent dispute' 2.4MW turbines will be delivered this June to Duke Energy's Los Vientos II project in Texas.

MHI's 2.4MW turbine is at the centre of a dispute with GE

It is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI) first US order for its flagship turbines since 2008 when GE sued two US divisions of MHI for allegedly infringing three of GE’s patents with the turbine, confirmed an MHI spokeswoman.

The ongoing dispute has escalated into a multi-pronged multibillion-dollar clash of the titans. MHI lawyers said its US sales had gone from $2 billion yearly to almost zero because of the dispute.

An MHI assembly plant for the 2.4MW turbine was completed in the autumn of 2011 and is idle. "A final decision on the production start date at the plant is still under review," the MHI spokeswoman said.

The turbines destined for Texas were assembled in Nagasaki, Japan before the first GE lawsuit was filed, she said.

Williams did not directly respond when asked about the risk of selling the disputed turbines in the US before the patent cases are settled.  She said the US judicial system will play a "crucial role" in ensuring open competition in the US wind turbine market.

Asked whether a settlement with GE is likely,  or whether settlement talks have started, she said: "We don't think it would be appropriate to speculate about what may or may not happen in the future."