Ford Deals With Its Second Patent Infringement Suit in as Many Weeks


For the second time over the span of about a week, Ford (NYSE:F) is finding itself at the business end of a lawsuit, brought forth by a party alleging that the company is in violation of their patents. The previous lawsuit, issued by Paice LLC, centered around Ford’s use of hybrid technology. This time, it has to do with turn signals.

Richard Ponziani, who is a former automotive design engineer for companies including General Motors and Valeo SA, has sued Ford claiming that the company’s three-blink lane change function violates a patent filed by Ponziani in 2008. When Ford introduced the feature in 2009, it hailed it as being a fix for one of the “top ten driving pet peeves” suffered by drivers, Bloomberg reported.

The feature allows the blinker to click three times before automatically shutting off, making it more difficult to forget that one’s turn signal is on when changing lanes. Ponziani’s complaint notes that Ford used the technology on its F-Series truck, the Taurus sedan, the Edge SUV, and the Fusion sedan. He’s seeking unspecified damages against the company.

Ford is also dealing with the lawsuit from Paice, which alleges that the automaker stepped on its patents pertaining to the hybrid power train systems that Ford uses in several of its vehicles.

“The truth is that Ford built its new hybrid system by relying heavily on the hybrid vehicle inventions it learned from Paice,” the company said in its complaint last week.

Ford declined to comment on the turn signal matter. While the hybrid lawsuit affects thousands of hybrids that Ford sold, this case could be dealing with a far greater volume of vehicles, ranging in the millions. The F-Series was the best selling vehicle in the U.S. last year, and the Fusion is among the best-selling in the sedan segment; however, a date range of vehicles in question was not provided.

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