2010 Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery
Toyota's legal battle to over making and selling the Hybrid Synergy Drive has a long history. Toyota has fought with both Solomon Technologies and Paice LLC over the gasoline-electric technology. In 2008, Toyota was ordered to pay Paice LLC $4.3 million for patent infringement, based on a cost of $25 per infringing car (defined at the second-gen Prius, the Toyota Highlander hybrid and the Lexus RX400H). But that didn't end the problem. Instead, this past September, Paice issued a new suit trying to get U.S. Customs to stop all of Toyota's hybrids at the border.
Paice believes that Toyota is using Paice technology in its hybrids and a court agreed in the $4.3 million settlement. Paice – Power Assisted Internal Combustion Engine – was started in 1992 by Russian immigrant Alex Severinsky. In 1994, Severinsky was awarded a patent for a microprocessor that coordinated power flows in both an ICE and an electric motor. Severinsky's patent expires in 2012 and Paice wants Toyota's imports halted until then. But, a semi-related legal decision involving eBay issued in May of 2006 may impact the Toyota situation because Paice, which does not make any hybrid cars, does not meet the new four-factor test that decision created. The lawsuit trying to get the vehicles stopped at the border is simply a new chip Paice is trying to gain in the ongoing fight. Learn more at Law.com.