Hyundai, Kia join Toyota as targets of patent suits

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Hyundai, Kia join Toyota as targets of patent suits

Hyundai Motor and its main affiliate Kia Motors were named in a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by a company that has been embroiled in a years-long battle with Toyota Motor over hybrid technology.

The closely held Paice LLC and Baltimore’s Abell Foundation, a nonprofit that is invested in Paice, filed the suit in a federal court in Baltimore last week, accusing the Seoul-based automakers of infringing three patents.

The complaint targets Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid. Hyundai and Kia, whose hybrid vehicles use the same powertrain technology, were aware of the patent litigation with Toyota, which ended with a 2010 settlement reached after eight years of legal battles, Paice said.

“Since as early as 2004, Paice has contacted Hyundai on numerous occasions and offered to discuss its patented hybrid technology,” Paice said in the complaint.

The company is seeking cash compensation and an order that prevents further use of the technology without permission.

Paice was founded by Alex Severinsky, a Soviet emigrant who began his career developing antitank-warfare instrumentation. In the 1990’s, he developed a high-voltage method to power gas- electric vehicles that he contends is the basis for modern hybrid technology.

Ford Motor, maker of the Fusion hybrid car, also agreed to license Paice’s technology to resolve lawsuits.

Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Chung Eui-sun is said to have created a patent team within the automaker’s Namyang research center to handle disputes over automotive technology. Bloomberg

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