The enviable, ecologically-correct halos surrounding Toyota's little green clean machines, the Prius and Highlander Hybrids, stand to shine just a little less brightly in light of an intellectual property lawsuit filed by Solomon Technologies, Inc. against the Toyota Motor Company.
According to AutoServiceWorld.com, the complaint filed with United States International Trade Commission (ITC) last week alleges that technology employed in the company's Hybrid Synergy Drive componentry illegally infringes upon Solomon's U.S. Patent Number 5,067,932. Solomon Technologies had already filed a similar motion in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa division in September of 2005.
If the ITC rules against Toyota in this case, it could elect to ban the Prius and Highlander Hybrids from further importation and subject the automaker to massive fines.
It will be interesting to watch how Toyota's legal team reacts to this issue, and to see if this purported technology patent-infringement will also be legally applied to forthcoming Hybrid Synergy Drive applications (e.g. the Camry Hybrid and Lexus LS hybrid).
Thanks to iDave for the tip.