In the latest turn of a series of suits and counter-suits by GE and MHI, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) and Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. have filed an antitrust lawsuit in a US District Court against the GE Company. The complaint charges GE with embarking on a scheme to monopolise the market for variable-speed wind turbines in the USA. Mitsubishi seeks damages that will be calculated during litigation.

This is a counter to GE’s patent infringement complaint in February this year against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in a US District Court in Northern Texas, alleging that MHI was infringing on two patents including its zero voltage ride through technology system and its bed-frame structure for supporting the weight of the rotor, gearbox and drive shaft. At the time GE claimed that MHI was also infringing on dozens of other wind turbine related GE patents.

This was despite a decision in January by the U.S. International Trade Commission, responding to earlier lawsuits by GE, but finding no violation of GE’s wind turbine patents by Mitsubishi, and terminating its investigation. At the time GE planned to appeal the International Trade Commission’ sdetermination, saying that the Commission’s decision indicated errors that provided grounds for an appeal.

In this most recent legal move, filed in the US District Court’s Western District of Arkansas, Mitsubishi alleges that after Mitsubishi gained a foothold in the U.S. market in 2006, GE embarked on an unlawful anti-competitive scheme to drive its suppliers out of the US market.

In addition, attorneys for MHI filed suit in the US District Court’s Middle District of Florida against GE, charging the company with infringing upon a key Mitsubishi patent for variable-speed wind turbines and alleging that GE has been making, using, selling and offering to sell infringing turbines without any authorisation or license to do so.

“GE’s patent infringement lawsuit deterred customers from purchasing variable speed wind turbines from Mitsubishi.” says Sonia Williams, spokesperson for Mitsubishi. “Our lawsuit documents how GE representatives intimidated Mitsubishi customers by advising them to either purchase license agreements from GE or face infringement risk.”

The complaint further alleges that GE made baseless claims of patent infringement against Mitsubishi. 

“GE brought these meritless claims against Mitsubishi and frightened potential wind turbine purchasers from purchasing Mitsubishi’s turbines, preventing Mitsubishi’s entry into the U.S. market,” says Williams.

GE has responded with a statement that lawsuits are meritless because the patents in question were issued by the relevant authorities.
“The claims in MHI’s antitrust complaint alleging improper conduct by GE in obtaining and enforcing our patents are meritless and outrageous,” says GE’s Dan Nelson. “The validity of the patents at issue has been examined and upheld in both the U.S. Patent Office and the International Trade Commission. GE’s conduct has been appropriate in all circumstances. MHI’s patent infringement allegations are similarly meritless and GE intends to vigorously defend itself.” Mr Nelson added that GE stands strongly behind the merits of its patent infringement lawsuits against MHI and will fight to protect its intellectual property.

GE launched its first lawsuit for patent infringement against Mitsubishi in February 2008, claiming Mitsubishi’s 2.4 MW wind turbine infringed upon three of GE’s patents.