A federal jury has ordered Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. to pay $28.9 million to a Baltimore-based company for patent infringement related to hybrid engine designs.
The decision, handed down on Thursday, rejected arguments made by Hyundai and Kia claiming patents owned by Paice LLC, a firm created in the US by Russian emigrant and former antitank-warfare engineer Dr, Alex Severinsky, were invalid.
The jury found that the Paice patent, which relates to controlling electric motors and internal combustion engines so they have increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions, was intentionally infringed upon by Hyundai and Kia.
The initial complaint filed was aimed specifically at Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid.
Frances Keenan, chairwoman of Paice, said the trial over hybrid engine technology was complicated, adding that the company is “pleased to have Dr. Severinsky’s foundational technology recognized” in the verdict.
The South Korean carmakers said they will appeal the decision, saying there was no evidence to support the verdict.
“Hyundai has requested that the presiding judge enter a judgment in its favor notwithstanding the verdict,” said Chris Hosford, a Hyundai spokesman. “Hyundai strongly believes its position and will appeal any remaining adverse findings.”
Hyundai and Kia not first sued
Paice has already completed a successful suit and settlement with the Toyota Motors Corp. and has another suit pending against the Ford Motor Co. over patent infringements related to their hybrid engine technology.
The high profile infringement trial against Toyota stretches back to 2005. Five years later the companies reached a global settlement that had threatened to place an import ban on the cars like the Toyota Prius. Ford is now in a similar situation with their use of the technology.