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Another High Court patent ruling -- Enercon versus Vestas

Vestas continues to hold the upper hand in a long running dispute over a variety of patents for wind turbine control that Germany's Enercon has accused the world's leading wind technology supplier of breaching. On November 14, a British High Court acquitted Vestas of wrong doing in connection with four Enercon patents. But the ruling may still not mark the end of the saga. The case concerned four European patents held by Enercon owner Aloys Wobben that had been extended to also apply in the UK. Two are related to voltage control, one to frequency control and one to "phase angle" control. Enercon stresses: "The European patents continue to exist."

According to Vestas the High Court has ruled that all four Enercon patents are "invalid," meaning Vestas has no case to answer. Furthermore, two patent claims in the "phase angle control patent" were deemed irrelevant to Vestas and not considered further. Enercon had taken Vestas to court in England and Scotland over suspected infringement of the patents and Vestas had questioned the validity of the UK patents as part of its defence.

Vestas says it is satisfied with the decision, describing it as the first judgement that considers all the disputed patents relating to grid connection. Referring to the ruling, the company states: "It has been handed down by a specialised patent court on the basis of an in-depth assessment." Vestas reports that there is still no clarity on whether the judgement will be appealed. Enercon says it is now "in the process of analysing the judgement."

Meantime, the European patents are also under dispute, as is normal when new patents are granted, in a procedure involving appeals and counter appeals that could take up to six years before final decisions are handed down. Enercon has also taken Vestas to court in the Netherlands, Canada and Ireland over suspected infringement of grid connection patents. Vestas says these remaining cases "will continue."

Vestas also reports that in a case concerning the validity of the German frequency control patent, the German High Court has finally dismissed Wobben's appeal, and "the patent remains invalid." But it appears that in as far as a European patent exists, the national German patent would not be effective.

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