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Toyota settles dispute over patent for hybrids

The third-generation Toyota Prius contains hybrid-engine technology that was an issue in the patent dispute. The third-generation Toyota Prius contains hybrid-engine technology that was an issue in the patent dispute. (Karen Bleier/ AFP/ Getty Images)
By Dan Strumpf
Associated Press / July 20, 2010

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NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. has settled a years-long dispute with a US company that had alleged the Japanese automaker used its technology in its hybrids without permission. The deal ends a squabble that had briefly threatened to block the Prius from being sold in the United States.

Toyota and Paice LLC said yesterday that they have settled their patent dispute and agreed to have all lawsuits between them dismissed. The terms were confidential, the companies said. No financial details were disclosed.

“After six years of litigation, we are pleased to reach a settlement with Toyota,’’ said Frances Keenan, chairman of the Paice board, in a prepared statement.

Paice, based in Bonita Springs, Fla., had contended that popular Toyota hybrids like the third-generation Prius and the Lexus HS 250h contain technology that violated Paice’s patents for hybrid engines.

Paice had asked US trade regulators to block importation of the vehicles.

The International Trade Commission, the body that investigates allegations of trade violations, had been scheduled to take up the case.

Toyota and Paice say they have agreed that although Toyota’s hybrids contain technology equivalent to Paice’s, Toyota developed its hybrid technology independently.