American tech firm says it deserves licensing fees from the Bavarian automaker.
The electrification of the automobile isn't a simple matter, or a cheap one. It takes years of intensive and costly research and development on the part of each and every automaker in the business, and there are few if any shortcuts. Except one American tech company says that's exactly what some automakers are taking, and taking at its expense. So it's taking legal action.
Automotive News reports that Paice LLC has filed a lawsuit against BMW for allegedly stealing its high-voltage technology designed to increase the efficiency of gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains.
The Baltimore-based company claims to have presented its innovation to BMW (among other automakers), providing executives and engineers with in-depth technical details on the technology. But instead of purchasing or licensing the tech from Paice, the company alleges that BMW simply copied it.
"Paice shared intimate details of our hybrid vehicle technology with BMW in good faith," Paice CEO Robert Oswald said in a statement cited by AN. "Rather than negotiate a license for our technology, BMW took what it learned from Paice and used it for its own gain."
The case dates back to 2005 when BMW joined a technical alliance with General Motors and DaimlerChrysler (two years before the German-American automaker separated). Paice claims to have shared its technology with the members of that alliance, which dissolved in 2009. "The following year, BMW released its only vehicle with this costly system, the BMW X6 SUV, and shortly [after] pulled it from the market," claims Paice. "But within the next few years, BMW began employing Paice's critical teachings, adding hybrid and plug-in hybrid models to its vehicle lineup with notable success."
BMW isn't the only automaker against which Paice has filed suit, either, having already taken action against other automakers. Paice and The Abell Foundaton (one of its principal shareholders) reportedly undertook similar litigation against Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai. According to Automotive News, all three subsequently agreed to license the technology from Paice, and we wouldn't be surprised to see this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Maryland, end with a similar outcome.