Eagle Harbor Holdings has named Ford in a lawsuit, contending that the automaker infringed on seven of its patents after talks between the two companies stalled out in 2008 – and the claimed infringements strike right at the heart of Ford's recent tech expansion.
In addition to claiming that Ford cribbed its technology for Active Park Assist, Stability Control, Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert and MyKey, the small Bainbridge Island, WA tech firm claims that the technology behind Ford's incredibly popular SYNC infotainment system. Specifically, the voice control and remote MP3 player connection technology.
According to Eagle:
"Our representatives began meeting with Ford in 2002 to discuss and disclose our patented automotive systems technology and its applicability for use in Ford vehicles," said Jeffrey Harmes, general counsel for Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC. "These meetings continued until 2008, when Ford stopped communications with us. In early 2009 we informed Ford that its automotive audio systems infringed on our patents. In March 2010, we again informed Ford that its automotive electronics systems, including Ford SYNC, infringed on our patents. Unfortunately, despite our many efforts to communicate with Ford and resolve these issues, Ford continues to refuse to license its use of our patented technology. Ford is ignoring our patent rights and continues to use, without permission or license, Eagle Harbor's technology."
Those talks also included Volvo – at the time, owned by Ford Motor Company – but it's unclear if Eagle will pursue the recently sold Swedish automaker for similar tech infringement.
A Ford spokesperson tells Autoblog, "We were just served with this lawsuit late last week and we have not yet had an opportunity to review the details. We believe it would be premature for us to comment until we have had a chance to do so."
It's unlikely that Ford will have to stop production of its SYNC and advanced safety-equipped vehicles, but if Eagle wins the suit or settles out of court, we wouldn't be surprised to learn of the Blue Oval cutting a hefty check.