Ford Accused of Infringing Fuel-Injection Patent in F-150

Ford Motor Co. was accused in a lawsuit of infringing a 2008 patent covering a fuel-injection system in its F-150 trucks.

Ford allegedly began selling vehicles, including the F-150, that incorporated the patent’s fuel system design after telling the inventor the company had no interest in the technology, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia by TMC Fuel Injection System LLC. The company, based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is seeking a court order barring Ford’s conduct, in addition to unspecified damages.

Ford’s discussions with Shou L. Hou, the patent inventor, began in December 2004, more than two years after an application was filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the technology, TMC said in the complaint. Discussions about licensing the technology failed in 2008 when Ford said the company wasn’t interested in pursuing the system, according to the complaint.

The technology addresses performance and fuel waste by increasing the fuel injection dynamic range, TMC said in the complaint. The system offers fuel savings of as much as 35 percent in city driving and also delivers a power boost option for acceleration, TMC said in papers filed with the complaint.

Todd Nissen, a spokesman for Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford, said the company had “only just heard about the lawsuit,” and would have no comment at this time.

Ford’s F-150 is available with a fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost, introduced in 2009, uses direct fuel injection and turbocharging to increase fuel economy.

Ford last year introduced its first EcoBoost engine for F-Series pickups. Trucks equipped with that engine accounted for 42 percent of the model line’s retail sales in July, the company said in its latest sales statement issued Aug. 1.

The case is TMC Fuel Injection System LLC v. Ford Motor Co., 12-cv-04971, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

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