EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT) said it has issued a letter to Aries Clean Energy inviting it to withdraw all of its claims of patent infringement made on July 9 as it reiterated its “absolute rejection” to Aries’ claims and its “anti-competitive application of legal threat to achieve undue commercial ends”.
The waste gasification to energy group said it has been advised that Aries has yet to legally serve its complaint against EQTEC, and as a result it has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit. However, EQTEC said its letter has been sent to correct misinformation in Aries' complaint and to put Aries on notice of its potential liability and legal obligations if it does not withdraw the complaint immediately.
EQTEC said its letter explains that Aries' entire complaint relies on infringement theories that would prove the asserted patents held by Aries are invalid. EQTEC Iberia, a subsidiary of EQTEC, developed prior art gasifiers over 15 years ago and that the exact EQTEC gasifier pictured and discussed throughout the infringement claims in Aries' complaint was first sold by EQTEC Iberia in 2008 and is virtually identical to an even earlier EQTEC gasifier, originally sold in 2005.
The letter also discusses evidence that Aries did not invent any of the asserted patents but instead acquired them in a bankruptcy auction for US$140,000, a package that also included other plant and equipment. That bankruptcy auction was in 2014, nine years after EQTEC Iberia sold gasifiers that predate all of the asserted Aries patents.
EQTEC added that the letter explains that months before Aries filed its suit, EQTEC demonstrated, with supporting evidence, that the asserted patents are not infringed and are irrelevant to EQTEC's far different, and far superior, technology.
“Despite knowing this, and after initially agreeing to business discussions to resolve these issues, Aries abruptly filed suit on the same day that EQTEC announced its institutional fundraising effort”, the company noted.
EQTEC said it “continues to refute every element of Aries’ allegations”, adding that having reviewed the claims in detail, it believes it has a “strong case to invalidate all four of the asserted patents held by Aries”.
The letter further notifies Aries regarding the substantial liability it may incur for pursuing patent infringement claims in bad faith.
“If Aries persists in its suit, EQTEC intends to pursue its available claims and defences to protect the market from the invalid patents that Aries acquired, bring Aries' unfair competition to an end, and prevent Aries from further interfering with EQTEC's contracts and business relations”, the group said.
EQTEC added that it also intends to ask the court to declare the case exceptional and award EQTEC all of its attorneys' fees and costs incurred in defending against Aries' claims.
Meanwhile, EQTEC also reaffirmed its commitment to the North Fork Community Power (NFCP) development in North Fork, California, which it said is “a pioneering project to reduce forest fire hazard while producing clean, renewable energy and creating permanent rural employment in the Sierra Foothill community”.
“Investment from the State of California and the continuing support and dedication of the local community will result in the construction and operation of a 2 [megawatt] biomass plant in California's Sierra. EQTEC is proud to support the NFCP project and is more committed than ever to providing leading clean energy technologies to California and wider international markets”, the company said.