• Nov 2, 2010
Alex Severinsky is a Russian man who came to the United States in 1978. He graduated from Ukraine's Kharkiv University of Radioelectronics in 1967 before moving on to an Electrical Engineering Ph.D. from Moscow's Institute for Precision Measurements in Radioelectronics and Physics in 1975. That's the background. Here's the important bit.
In 1994, Severinsky patented an invention he called Hyperdrive, which allows for a seamless transition between drive systems – what essentially allows hybrid vehicles to operate smoothly while switching between gas and electric power. Toyota uses a system similar to Hyperdrive in its hybrid vehicles yet the automaker states they developed this technology independent of Severinsky's research. Regardless, thanks to a lengthy lawsuit, the automaker is now forced to pay Alex Severinksy for every single hybrid vehicle it sells.

Toyota has sold over one million hybrids in the United States and more than two million around the world. It's ordered by the court to pay Paice, an organization which exists solely to litigate companies that may be infringing upon Severinsky's patents, $98 for every single hybrid it sells.

We've followed the court battle between Paice and Toyota for a few years now. Two years ago, the automaker lost its appeal case over the patents for hybrid technology. Just three months ago it settled the dispute with Paice, ahead of a scheduled hearing with the International Trade Commission. Ford, who was pending legal action for the hybrid system in its Fusion, also settled with Paice.

AOL Autos outlines the facts of Alex Severinsky's patents, the Paice organization and how one mans Hyperdrive system has affected numerous automakers. It's an interesting look into the world of patent law and is well worth the read.

[Source: AOL Autos]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's his intellectual property, $100 from every hybrid Toyota sells is not even a drop in the bucket. If anything, this guy is entitled to MORE.

      Kudos to him for protecting his intellectual capital and getting his fair share.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Easily a billionaire now. While attending college I knew a girl whose father had a patent related to ATM machines. He received pennies for each and every ATM transaction a person made. Insane amounts of money.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It doesn't say anywhere that he's stopping anyone from using it, he just wants to be paid for it when they do.

      And millions of companies sit on patents they don't want to see the light of day, it's just how things are.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess that makes Toyota's 2.7 million hybrid sales somewhat bitter sweet...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thats a Big check.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How of those that commented actually know patent law?

      Toyota and Ford are not prevented from developing their own "hyper-drive" system, they are prevented from developing the same, or substantially similar, system. Substantial similarity requires that EVERY significant element of of the patented invention be used, or essentially equivalent, to the elements used in Ford or Toyota's invention in order to be deemed infringing. For those who are not in the know, read up on the Patent Act, specifically 35 U.S.C. Section 271.

      You can't hold it against this guy for inventing and developing a system at a time when there was not a market for it, and then getting his just due when the market actually materialized in the last five years. Also, the patent expires two years so it's not like he's going to be "screwing" Ford and Toyota for the lifetime of the hybrid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In Russia, patent trolls you!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's "Severinsky", not "Severinksy".

      Someone is dyslexic or ignorant of Russian patrimonic naming systems.

      Just FYI
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you're being sarcastic, that form of "patrimony" is used frequently in genealogical discussions.

        If you're being sincere, it means inherited (as in from the father, "son of so-and-so", usually "-ovitch", but also "-sky")
        • 4 Years Ago
        typo, sorry.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Whats patrimonic ?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Paice, an organization which exists solely to litigate companies"

      Only in America. Bunch of thieves.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thank you FT. Please say more. During an earlier meeting, I shared this article and your comments via a projector to roughly 150 people in my office. They all can NOT stop laughing at your idiocracy.

        PS - we all call bs on your self suggested ability to speak seven languages; we really think you're a self absorbed redneck from Arkansas. You could even be Shady Bobby.

        Anyway, this conversation is over.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL! I doubt you have a job that requires the use of a projector. I love it when you nincompoops out yourselves with ridiculous comments like that! LMAO!

        As far as my linguistic skills, when you grow up in Europe you learn the upside of speaking several languages.

        NOW this conversation is truly over.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jimbob, Toyota didn't steal anything, they developed all their own technology. This guy's patent "resembles" what Toyota uses and he sued Toyota. And since we have excellent sc%mbag lawyers in America they were able to fleece (steal is a better word) Toyota and Ford for millions of dollars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jimbob, Toyota didn't steal anything, they developed all their own technology. This guy's patent "resembles" what Toyota uses and he sued Toyota. And since we have excellent scumbag lawyers in America they were able to fleece (steal is a better word) Toyota and Ford for millions of dollars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        FT: Keith Griffin hasn't formed a company solely to go after other companies in court.

        It makes no sense how such action that has not happened and does not exist can show Keith's, "true character. Period."

        You, FT, used the word "you" incorrectly. What's wrong with you FT boy?

        Why are you speaking in my country if you don't know the grammar laws and are not paying attention to what you say? Do you know what happens to nice FT guys like you who over generalize?

        Butt be hurting for a month. The next time you pompously over generalize, you will. Pause. Get violated.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Way to quote out of context. The whole thing reads: "Paice, an organization which exists solely to litigate companies that may be infringing upon Severinkys' patents." Basically, Severinksy had to set up an organization to protect his patents. Due diligence is required to protect things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. Otherwise they become worthless. Good for him that he set up the organization.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It isn't quoted out of context. When you form a company solely to go after other companies in court it shows your true character. Period.

        Only in America......
        • 4 Years Ago
        Kevin, YOU are funny, and not in a good way.

        Get back to me when you are fluent in 7 languages..... English is my 6th.......
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, mostly, read on. While this organization has a more focused function in protecting ONE patent, I wonder if the threat of a lawsuit (or their royalty demands) is stymying research and further production in the hybrid area. If so, then the organization in question is no better than the patent troll firms that tuck patents under their belt, for the simple reason of deriving monetary gain through litigation. There never was, nor ever will be an effort to actually utilize a given patent that they hold. They simply use them as placeholders in the, 'don't step on my lawn or I'll bring a lawsuit against you' game. In these cases, they are blocking any innovation or forward progress.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Coupefan, very good point and obviously the case with this patent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        FT, you seem to be missing something important here. Please explain what's wrong with suing companies who STEAL and PROFIT off your ideas?
      • 4 Years Ago
      just goes to show how screwed the patent system is. This guy thought of something and was good at paperwork but never had the balls or the ambition to make it work so he sued. This kinda of crap makes me sick. I wonder how much could be saved on every product if it was not for these types of ridiculous monopoly rents.
        • 4 Years Ago
        From what I've read in the past, he took his work to Toyota and they said they weren't interested. Then years later the Prius rolls out. They knew what they made would infringe, but hoped not to ever have to pay for the tech.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How do you know he never had the balls or ambition? Maybe he just didn't have the investors, or the companies he went to didn't want to pay him for his ideas. There are many smart engineers and inventors out there that don't have the business savvy to get there technology and products to market.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not every Hybrid, every one that uses an HSD like power coupler. I wonder if he will get a cut on the Volt, or if the Volts clutches are enough to get around the patent.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You sure he profits from 'every' hybrid sold. The Koreans are using automatic transmissions and I believe their hybrid technology is derived through their own R&D in-house. Let me know.
      IamXD
      • 4 Years Ago
      First off, more power to him for inventing something cool. But...

      I thought that you had to actively use your patent to develop products or further the technology. Using a patent to block others from producing but having no intention to produce yourself is considered anti-competitive and would result in the patent being thrown out.

      Isn't that what is happening here? He has a patent that he is not pursuing and it prevents others from furthering the technology...
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