November 15, 2008 in Business

Itron settles lawsuit claiming patent infringement

Spokane firm makes wireless utility meters
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane meter technology company Itron Inc. settled a lawsuit this week with a Georgia firm that sued over alleged patent infringement.

Deloris Duquette, Itron’s vice president for corporate communications, declined to disclose the settlement amount.

“But it is not so large an amount that we have to report it” to the Securities and Exchange Commission, she said.

The lawsuit, filed by Atlanta-based IPCO, LLC, was also filed against two of Itron’s partners, Eaton Corp. and CenterPoint Energy, a large Texas-based power utility. The suit alleges the three companies illegally used a wireless “mesh” technology for which IPCO had received a U.S. patent.

Many utilities use wireless devices and automated meters to send customer information to an information management center.

CenterPoint Energy, based in Houston but operating in six states, is one of Itron’s large customers. CenterPoint also filed a settlement with IPCO this week. Details of that settlement were not disclosed.

Eaton has been a major provider of equipment and wireless technology used by utilities. Attorneys for IPCO could not be reached to say whether the suit against Eaton has been dismissed as well.

Duquette said Itron has not acknowledged patent infringement in this instance.

“We decided it would be a better decision to license their technology than to fight this in court,” she said.

The settlement says Itron is paying for a license agreement that Duquette said includes all of IPCO’s current patent portfolio. “The agreement covers current and future technology they may acquire,” she said.

Since filing the lawsuit, IPCO has changed its name to IntusIQ.

To reach staff writer Tom Sowa, call (509) 459-5492 or e-mail toms@spokesman.com.


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