Energy & Sustainability IP Updates — November 2023
Thursday, November 2, 2023

Tesla Patent Litigation Update

It is hard to go more than one or two days without reading a headline in the news or on social media about Elon Musk’s Tesla. Perhaps as a sign of what is to come as the push to carbon-free vehicles continues, the EV automaker is also becoming more prevalent in the patent litigation dockets across the country. In addition to its ongoing battle with Autonomous Devices, LLC in the District of Delaware (Autonomous Devices LLC v. Tesla, Inc. DDE-1-22-cv-01466) and before the US Patent Office (IPR proceedings), and its multidistrict confrontation with CAP-XX Ltd. (CAP-XX, Ltd. v. Maxwell Technologies, Inc., DDE-1-19-cv-01733; Tesla, Inc. v. CAP-XX, Ltd., EDTX-2-23-cv-00334), Tesla was hit with two more patent infringement complaints last month.

On September 8, 2023, a New York–based entity called “Safety Direct LLC” filed a single patent infringement case against Tesla in the Northern District of California, asserting infringement of one or more claims of US Patent No. 10,115,292, entitled “System and method for automatic loss prevention of mobile communication devices.” The ’292 patent is directed to a device that activates a visual and noise alarm if a mobile device or important small item is removed beyond a user-defined distance, such as two meters, thus immediately letting the owner and others know that a theft has occurred. The patent explains that the device may be called an Automatic Loss Prevention Alert Trigger (ALPAT), and software on a mobile device may be called Automatic Loss Prevention Alert Software (ALPAS). The ‘292 patent states that ALPAT can be in the form of a small device that a person can keep with them and optionally secure to a keychain. Safety Direct accuses Tesla of infringing claims of the ’292 patent by making, using, selling, and offering to sell, and by inducing and contributing to others’ infringement through their sales, offers for sale, and use of the Tesla keyfob, Tesla cars and other products depicted on Defendant’s websites and sold on third party websites within the United States. The case is styled as Safety Direct LLC v. Tesla Motors, Inc., NDCA-3-23-cv-04613, and remains in its early stages.

More recently, on September 13, 2023, a Texas-based entity called “Relink US LLC” filed a single patent infringement case against Tesla in the Western District of Texas, asserting infringement of one or more claims of US Patent No. 9,793,755, entitled “Uninterruptible power supply and method for managing power flow in a grid-tied photovoltaic system.” The ’755 patent is directed to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and method for managing power flow in a grid-tied photovoltaic system, wherein the UPS provides grid-tie, backup power, voltage-frequency relay, power factor control, and load-leveling functions. The patent claims an uninterruptible power supply that includes a bi-directional converter configured to operate as an alternating current voltage source, a direct current power port configured to be coupled to a battery, a first alternating current power port coupled to the bi-directional converter and a controller configured to regulate a power flow of the current-source inverter by adjusting a frequency of the alternating current voltage source. Relink accuses Tesla of infringing claims of the ’755 patent by making, using, selling, offering to sell, and/or importing, and by actively inducing others to make, use, sell, offer to sell, and/or import “its home backup systems that include inverters, including those of the Powerwall (fka Powerwall 2) and Powerwall+ systems.” The case is styled as Relink US LLC v. Tesla, Inc., WDTX-1-23-cv-01093 and remains in its early stages.

We predict that Tesla will ultimately move to settle both of these matters in their early stages and direct its focus on the ongoing battles with Autonomous Devices and CAP-XX. We will continue to monitor and provide updates here.

 

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