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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's what you get for trying to innovate in the USA. There are so many companies out there that just produce patents all day long, hoping to get licencing fees or win a lawsuit. They don't actually produce anything other than that. We need patent reform very very badly. The cases of this are so common and widespread, it's crazy. Seriously, how do you know if something you create infringes on a patent? hire a few dozen people to sift through millions of patents full time ?
      Boost Retard
      • 3 Years Ago
      PATENT TROLL!!!
      MikeSVT
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bold claim, hope they have the blueprints and engineering diagrams to back it up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        merlot066
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, in 2002 when Alan Mulally was working for Boeing, he stole their idea for Stability Control... good one
        Dean Hammond
        • 3 Years Ago
        wow P, really...wow...leopard never changes its spots does it....
          Oscar
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          @ Silvy (how cute) No, you haven't specifically said you "hate" Ford, but your incessant (boring) rants against everything Ford clearly indicates your hatred for the brand. The fact that you appear on other sites spewing the same crap only bolsters that fact.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          [blocked]
          Oscar
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          @ Z71 (the Realist) And what do you say about those, like yourself, that blindly HATE Ford?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          [blocked]
        Tiberius1701
        • 3 Years Ago
        Oh sooooo many down votes, why don't you take the hint and quit.
      rmkensington
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just for that Im going to go straight out and buy an eagle holdings sync system. ....Oh wait...they havent actually made anything????
      JaredN
      • 3 Years Ago
      Patent Trolls like Eagle Harbor Holdings just completely suck.
        RJC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JaredN
        Right now, the patent trolls and the fear they create through their use of lawsuits as a revenue generation tool, are one of the principle causes of diminished risk taking in new product development by small and medium size entities. Unless you're a huge company, and have the bankroll to support an army of attorneys, this is one game you won't want to play in.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 3 Years Ago
          @RJC
          No kidding dude. It's stifling our innovation. We are at the lowest point of innovation since the internet exploded in the 90's and early 00's. It really disgusts me to see this... AND no action preventing it !
      AM2
      • 3 Years Ago
      Talks between the 2 companies stalled in 2008? Hmmm.... If those guys at Eagle Harbor Holdings are telling the truth why did they wait 3 years. Desperate to make a few bucks on the side and take a shot and see if they can win?
        JaredN
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AM2
        They are patent trolls. They don't actually make anything or research anything. They patent something and then try to blackmail companies into paying them.
          RJC
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JaredN
          @ Z71 True only by letter of the law. The patent process and holding system was put into place to foster innovation. The patent trolls are not living up to the spirit of the original intent (see my other post above). A complete reformation of the patent system is long overdue.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JaredN
          [blocked]
      jbm0866
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh, and as JaredN hinted, there are companies out there who don't produce anything tangible, and only exist to patent "ideas" and then sue any large corporation that comes up with anything even remotely similar. I don't know if that's the case here since it sounds like they actually tried to sell something to Ford...but still.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jbm0866
        [blocked]
      jbm0866
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Discuss and disclose" does not equal sharing exact specificiations and blueprints with Ford. If they were dumb enough to do that without any kind of legally binding contract with Ford then they deserve to have someone take their ideas and run with it..
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        JaredN
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's actually patent reform that is a more pressing need.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JaredN
          [blocked]
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought Microsoft developed sync? Shouldn't they be sueing MS?
      Brian Fox
      • 3 Years Ago
      FORD is so shady it isn't funny to work with. They will try and F you whenever they can. I'm glad these guys are going after them and not letting their "my **** don't stink" attitudes bite them in the butt! The Lord gets you in the end my friend.
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