- Law firms
- Related documents
- Northwestern said Mitsubishi Electric infringed collaborative robot patents
- University also sued Yaskawa, KUKA, Fanuc for infringement
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(Reuters) – Northwestern University settled its dispute with Mitsubishi Electric over allegations that its industrial robots infringe three of the school’s robotics patents, according to Tuesday filings in Chicago federal court.
The university had accused Mitsubishi of infringing patents related to the growing field of collaborative robots, or “cobots,” that can safely interact with humans in a shared workspace, which Northwestern said its professors Michael Peshkin and Edward Colgate invented.
Northwestern also settled related claims from a separate lawsuit against Japan-based Yaskawa Electric, according to another court document filed Tuesday.
Terms of the settlements weren’t immediately available.
The university, Mitsubishi, and Yaskawa didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Northwestern’s attorneys Nevin Gewertz and Meg Fasulo of Bartlit Beck and Mitsubishi’s attorneys Robert Pluta and Bryan Nese of Mayer Brown also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The university had also sued Germany-based KUKA AG and Japan-based Fanuc Corp, which also make industrial robots, for allegedly infringing the same cobot patents. Those lawsuits are still ongoing.
Northwestern had sued the four companies in February, alleging they infringed patents related to Peshkin and Colgate’s “groundbreaking” inventions related to the “intelligent assist devices known as collaborative robots.” Cobots can help human operators with industrial tasks, and unlike other industrial robots, people can be near them safely when they are operating, Northwestern said.
Northwestern accused the companies of making and selling several series of industrial robots and controllers “to be used in collaboration with humans” that infringe the patents.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Electric denied that its robots infringed in May and had argued the patents were invalid.
The case is Northwestern University v. Mitsubishi Electric Corp, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:21-cv-00607.
For Northwestern: Nevin Gewertz and Meg Fasulo of Bartlit Beck
For Mitsubishi: Robert Pluta and Bryan Nese of Mayer Brown