An alleged patent violation by a number of automakers has encouraged the US International Trade Commission to open an investigation. The USITC helps oversee intellectual property infringement cases, and on this occasion was approached with a complaint from Intellectual Ventures II.
The complaint alleges that various automakers and suppliers – including Honda, Toyota, BMW, Aisin and Denso – utilize thermoplastic components that violate Intellectual Ventures II’s patent. The parts are used in a variety of modern vehicles sold in the US, and can be found in a number of parts, including water pumps and power-steering units.
Reuters reports that vehicles affected by this complaint include the , and . BMW did not immediately return requests for comment, while Toyota and Honda declined to comment.
While a complaint has been filed, it hasn’t been determined whether it actually carries any weight as of yet. The USITC will assign the case to a judge, who will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not to proceed further. The USITC has 45 days to set a target date for the estimated completion of this investigation.
It’s doubtful that automakers would have to remove the vehicles in question from the road, but if they’re found to be in violation of Intellectual Ventures II’s patent, they will have to pay a relatively large fine.