Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy A/S v. General Electric Co. et al. (D. Mass. 21-cv-10216).

  • June 14, 2022

Following a jury verdict that General Electric’s Halide-X wind turbines infringed Siemens’ ‘413 patent, Judge Young addressed Siemens’ motion for enhanced damages.  He opened with a paragraph on the importance of offshore wind turbines in the fight against global warming and the belief that the world would be better served by the parties cross-licensing each other’s patents, and reluctantly moved forward with his opinion.

In an earlier opinion, Judge Young had ordered a permanent injunction prohibiting the sale of the Halide-X turbines, but had carved out a  pair of exceptions, citing the climate crisis and the impact that the injunction would have on projects long since planned and approved.  He allowed GE to continue with installation of turbines for its Vineyard Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 1 projects, setting a $30,000 per megawatt royalty for the former and a requirement that all money to be paid to GE on the latter be deposited with the court pending a determination of the appropriate royalty rate for that project.

Siemens sought to have the royalty rate for the Ocean Wind project set at $90,000 per megawatt, arguing that this continued development constituted willful infringement.  Judge Young rejected this rate, noting that enhancement is not available when the continued infringement is permitted by a court-ordered stay of an injunction, as was the case with the Ocean Wind project.  He also rejected GE’s argument that the royalty rate for the Ocean Wind project should be the same as that of the Vineyard Wind project, noting that while enhancement is not available, his carve-out to the injunction does effectively allow GE to willfully infringe the patent.  He discounted its assertion that it could design around the patent for significantly less than the $30,000 per megawatt that had been awarded, noting that it GE’s assertion was correct, it would already be making the change.  He further discounted GE’s argument that the costs of building the project had risen since 2018 due to the Covid crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war, noting that GE had not indicated whether the increases were out of the range of what had been anticipated or how it would render the project economically unviable.  He noted the benefits that GE was obtaining by being permitted to continue infringement, in terms of the project and in terms of the relationships with vendors and subcontractors and working out of supply chain issues that would prove valuable when bidding on new projects.  Weighing all of these issues, Judge Young determined that the royalty rate for the Ocean Wind project should be set at $60,000 per megawatt of rated capacity.  

General Electric has noticed an appeal in this case, and Siemens has cross-appealed the findings of invalidity and no infringement of a second Siemens patent.

The Ocean Wind project is being constructed 15 miles of the coast of New Jersey, and is anticipated to generate 1.1 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power half a million homes, and the Vineyard Wind project is anticipated the generate 800 megawatts of power.  Should these  projections be met, the combined royalties would be about $90 million.

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