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GE Fails to Get Mitsubishi Antitrust Claims Dismissed

General Electric Co. failed to win dismissal of allegations brought by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. that it seeks to monopolize U.S. sales of wind turbines through litigation, intimidation and fraud.

U.S. District Judge J. Leon Holmes in Fayetteville, Arkansas, today denied GE’s request to dismiss the antitrust lawsuit. The judge granted GE’s request to halt the case until the company’s patent-infringement claims against Mitsubishi, which the Japanese company has characterized as “sham” litigation, have been resolved.

“If GE prevails in any of the infringement actions, then Mitsubishi’s claims in this action will be moot because GE will have the right to exclude Mitsubishi from the market,” Holmes said in his decision.

Mitsubishi is seeking damages that might exceed $1 billion in the lawsuit filed in May. The Tokyo-based company accuses GE of embarking on an anticompetitive scheme to drive Mitsubishi’s suppliers out of the U.S. market. The lawsuit, which focuses on patent claims that GE first lodged against Mitsubishi in 2008, escalated a dispute between the two industrial companies over the growing U.S. market for wind turbines.

Mitsubishi is planning to build a turbine-assembly factory in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“The judge did decide to stay discovery for the present,” Sonia Williams, a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi Power Systems America, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are heartened by his suggestion that he may terminate the stay if he finds appropriate circumstances.”

Dan Nelson, a spokesman for Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE, said in an e-mailed statement that the company strongly disagrees with allegations it has monopolized any market.

“The court found it inappropriate to go forward with the case and therefore stayed the case pending the outcome of GE’s patent infringement cases,” Nelson said. “GE is confident that the outcome of those cases will remove any doubts about the meritless nature of MHI’s claims.”

The case is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. v. General Electric Co., 10-05087, U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas (Fayetteville).

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