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Federal jury awards Baltimore tech company $28M in patent lawsuit

(iStock/aluxum)

(iStock/aluxum)

A federal jury Thursday has awarded more than $28 million in damages to a Baltimore-based hybrid technology company in a patent infringement suit against automakers Hyundai and Kia.

The award for Paice LLC came following a seven-day trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Paice, co-owned by The Abell Foundation, accused the automakers of using patented technology in their cars without licensing, according to the complaint, filed in 2012.

The jury returned a finding of willful infringement and a $28,915,600 verdict after a full day of deliberations, according to Paice spokeswoman Joyce Fitzpatrick.

“We were very gratified by the jury’s verdict, and thank them for their hard work and dedication as they sorted through this complex matter,” said Frances Keenan, Paice’s chairwoman, in a prepared statement. Keenan is also vice president for finance and chief financial officer for The Abell Foundation.

Four patents were at issue in the lawsuit, which claimed the automakers were aware that Paice held several key patents on hybrid technology but used the technology in vehicles without licensing it, according to the complaint.

Paice was represented by Fish and Richardson PC in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore-based Kramon and Graham P.A. A call requesting comment from the lead attorney on the case was not returned Friday.

The case is Paice LLC et al. v. Hyundai Motor Company et al., 1:12-cv-00499-MJG.

Separately, Paice has a similar patent infringement lawsuit pending against The Ford Motor Company. In the Ford litigation, Paice alleges the company licensed one patent from Paice in 2010 but had already been applying Paice technology after a series of meetings years earlier between the companies.

Paice was founded in 1992 by Alex Severinsky, a Soviet immigrant and engineer; the company’s name stands for “Power Assisted Internal Combustion Engine,” according to the complaint.

Paice was accepted into the University of Maryland’s technology incubator and has received millions of dollars in funding from The Abell Foundation, which is now a co-owner of the company and a plaintiff in the lawsuits.

A 2010 study found Paice owns four of the world’s 10 most-dominant hybrid vehicle patents, according to the lawsuit. That same year, the company reached a confidential settlement in a similar patent infringement lawsuit with Toyota, whereby the Japanese automaker agreed to a global license of all of Paice’s U.S. and foreign patents, according to the lawsuit.