In the News March 1, 2021

Ford Motor Wins USPTO Challenge to MIT Clean Engine Patents

Alston & Bird client Ford Motor Co. prevailed in a patent suit at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over claims by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) accusing the company of allegedly infringing technology in its EcoBoost® engines.

In separate final decisions on February 12, 2021, the USPTO’s Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) found in favor of Ford and invalidated three patents – U.S. Patent Nos. 9,810,166; 9,255,519; 10,138,826 – that MIT claimed covered nearly all of Ford’s vehicles, including the popular Ford F-150. The PTAB concluded that Ford had shown the challenged claims are invalid because they would have been obvious based on earlier inventions. 

The patents were part of a lawsuit that MIT and Ethanol Boosting Systems LLC filed against Ford in January 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. EBS was co-founded by three MIT researchers who work with internal combustion engines and are the named inventors on the patents.

The PTAB decisions follow two earlier patent rulings won by Ford against MIT at the federal district and appellate court levels. In February 2020, Ford secured a final judgment of noninfringement from the Delaware federal court. MIT appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the Delaware court decision in December 2020. 

Representing Ford in the matter is an Alston & Bird team led by partners Michael Connor, Natalie Clayton, and Chris Douglas; senior associates Lauren Burrow, Andrew Ligotti, and Brian Hill; and senior patent agent Jonathan Thomas  of the firm’s Patent Litigation and Inter Partes & Covered Business Method Review Groups.

The cases are Ford Motor Co. v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, P.T.A.B., 2/12/21.
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