The long-simmering dispute over hybrid technology patents between Toyota and the Florida engineering firm Paice is rolling on, as Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that a judge from the U.S. International Trade Commission refused to dismiss the Paice suit. That suit builds on an earlier ruling requiring Toyota to pay Paice royalties on its Prius, Highlander Hybrid and RX400h sales (Toyota is challenging the amount of these royalties, ordered by a federal judge in Texas).
Paice is also seeking an ITC ban on US sales of these vehicles, and by refusing to dismiss Paice’s case, the ITC leaves the door open for such a ban. A hearing before the ITC is scheduled for July 19th. Needless to say, a US-market ban on sales of Toyota hybrids would be a huge setback for the Japanese automaker, eliminating its major technological advantage from the marketplace. Paice is also seeking a patent ruling against Ford for its use of hybrid technology.