Flash Electronics claims that is was approached by three senior officials of Royal Enfield on October 12, 2018 in New Delhi to settle the issue amicably
Flash Electronics India, a manufacturer of electronic and electric auto components, has filed a lawsuit against Eicher Motors-controlled Royal Enfield, challenging patent infringement in the US.
As per the suit filed, Royal Enfield has infringed Flash Electronics’ patent on “regulator rectifier device and method for regulating an output voltage of the same” duly issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to Flash Electronics on February 20, 2018 after the latter’s R&D department made a breakthrough invention of the component in 2014.
Flash Electronics claims to be a key manufacturer and supplier of this component to many leading two-wheeler manufacturers in India and overseas. Bajaj Auto, Kawasaki, Jawa, Harley-Davidson, Yamaha and Triumph are some of its two-wheeler clients.
The regulator-rectifier is a vital component that smoothly and efficiently converts the AC (alternating current) voltage produced in motorcycle engines into DC (direct current) voltage to charge the batteries, power the headlights, light up the instrument panel and hence drives the motorcycle’s electrical systems.
Besides USA, Flash Electronics has been granted patent in various other countries including many European countries including Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Switzerland as well as Turkey. The company would also be filing similar suits in respective jurisdictions soon.
Sanjeev Vasdev, Founder and Managing Director, Flash Electronics India, said, “We have been trusted suppliers to leading auto manufacturers across India and overseas. It’s unfortunate to have to deal with such an unexpected and unprecedented act on the part of Royal Enfield. This incident is highly objectionable and has dented the credibility of the brand, at least with us as a partner.”
"We would like to clarify that the said component is supplied to us by an external, proprietary supplier, which independently develops and owns the IP rights in the said component. The supplier denies plaintiff’s claims vehemently. We are actively evaluating the issue internally and seeking legal advice from our US counsels," said a Royal Enfield spokesperson.
Explaining the sequence of events, Vasdev said, “In 2014, Royal Enfield approached us to manufacture this product for which we had applied for patent. We provided them samples. They tested it and found it to be good, but we could not arrive at the pricing. They then said they won’t go ahead with our technology, but instead use something else. In August 2018, we came to know that they asked some other Indian company to manufacture our patented product. They flew down last year and promised to stop production of all bikes using our technology. But later we came to know that it was only a ploy to buy time as two of their bikes were up for launch.”
Vasdev also claims that his company was approached by three senior officials of Royal Enfield on October 12, 2018 in New Delhi to settle the issue amicably and requested Flash Electronics not to file any suit on the matter, which however, remained unresolved.
He said Flash Electronics will take all the necessary action required across the world to ensure that Royal Enfield stops infringing the patent and pays compensation for the violation, which would run into ‘millions of dollars’."We will file a lawsuit in India too. The lawsuit in the US will come up for hearing in about 3-4 months. They will be prevented from selling their bikes in US and instead forced to recall all units. The Continental GT, Interceptor, Himalayan were some of the earliest models to adopt our technology, but later on we found that all models of Royal Enfield are using this technology," he stated.Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, exclusive trading recommendations, independent equity analysis, actionable investment ideas, nuanced takes on macro, corporate and policy actions, practical insights from market gurus and much more.