Litex Inc. v. Delphi Automotive Systems Inc. Non-Thermal Plasma ("NTP") assisted Catalysis
Company Backgrounds Litex Inc. Delphi Automotive Systems Based in Sherman Oaks, CA Auto emission controls manufacturer Close relations with Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Troy, Michigan Large company offereinga broad range of innovative solutions from components to systems and modules.
Case Background • May 2001, Litex, Inc. filed suit against Delphi in federal court in the District of Massachusetts • Said the auto-parts maker infringed its patents for methods to reduce exhaust pollutants. • Delphi publicly took the position that the Litex lawsuit was without merit • Litex demanded that Delphi be restrained from further infringement, pay compensatory and treble damages, and destroy all devices and prototypes which infringed.
Technology in question • Non Thermal Plasma ("NTP") assisted catalysis. • Rapidly emerging as one of the most promising new emissions control technologies. • Provides reductions of tailpipe pollutants such as unburned hydrocarbons, particulates, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.
A non-thermal plasma is in general any plasma which is not in thermodynamic equilibrium. • It alters the chemical composition of exhaust gases, enabling the converter to operate more efficiently and making it more fuel sulfur tolerant. • It is being extensively studied by companies such as Ford motor Co., Lockheed Martin, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboritories.
Significance of Technology • The benefits of NTP are expected to assist the automobile industry in cost-effectively meeting the increasingly stringent emission standards such as Tier 2,LEV II and EURO IV. • In addition, the technology is expected to be enablingtechnology for the introduction of advance lean burn gasoline and diesel engines.
Litex’s Claims • Own’s Eight patents pertaining to the technology. • 3 are joint-owned with Lockheed Martin • In July 2001, Litex expanded the infringement suit against Delphi • The amended complaint cites at least three claims in patent #6,253,544 that Delphi infringes. • Brian M. Rothery
Delphi Automotive’s Defense • Did not believe they infringed any of Litex’s patents. • Believe Litex’s patents are invalid. • Believe Litex’s claim for damages was inappropriate and unsupportable because Delphi never commercialized the allegedly accused technology
Court Rulings • Trial was set for November 2003. • On November 12, both parties agreed to dismiss the litigation in favor to submit the case to binding arbitration. • Arbitration took place mid 2004. • Judgment was entered in favor of Delphi Automotive.