Velodyne, the world’s largest lidar developer, has filed patent infringement complaints against Hesai and Suteng (also known as RoboSense). The complaints were filed Aug. 13 to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The majority of autonomous vehicle companies rely on lidar, and the San Jose-based company said the two Chinese companies have “threatened Velodyne and its business” by copying its lidar technology. Velodyne said Hesai and Robosense have been selling products that infringe on multiple aspects of US Patent No. 7,969,558, which covers a “High Definition Lidar System” and was awarded to Velodyne founder David Hall in 2011. Hall did not invent lidar, but he did invent the lidar-based 3-D point cloud system.
Both claims allege the Chinese companies inspected and performed a tear-down of Velodyne’s products. Velodyne alleges “Robosense knew of and studied Velodyne’s products and patented technology before it incorporated that technology into its own products, as its personnel admitted in public interviews. Foreign counterparts of the ‘558 patent were also cited in a Robosense foreign patent application (CN105824029A).”
Velodyne alleges Hesai filed a patent application (CN206223978) that cited the ‘558 patent in its specification, while foreign counterparts of the ‘558 patent were also cited in a Robosense foreign patent application.
Velodyne asked the court to stop both companies from selling the allegedly infringing products and for enhanced damages. Robosense raised a $45 million funding round in October 2018.
“Velodyne Lidar Inc. is the inventor of surround view lidar,” said Hall. “We are an invention-based company and vigorously defend our intellectual property to enable us to keep investing in and innovating our technology.”
In a statement to Quartz, Robosense said Velodyne is only targeting “a few items” sold in the US. The lawsuit won’t affect the company’s sales plan globally. “Suteng will persist with researching and developing core technology,” said the statement.
Velodyne also sells lidar sensors for robotics applications. It recently introduced the Velodyne Lidar Puck 32MR for low-speed autonomy, including mobile robots and drones. The Puck 32MR boasts a range of 120 meters and a 40-degree vertical field of view to enable navigation in unfamiliar and dynamic settings.
In other legal news, defunct consumer robotics company Anki is being sued for patent infringement. Stretchtech filed the lawsuit alleging Anki’s Vector robot infringes on three of its audio-related patents. StretchTech claimed the alleged acts of infringement “will continue to damage StretchTech irreparably.” The company is seeking damages that are in “no event less than a reasonable royalty.”
The Robot Report has launched the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo focuses on improving the design, development and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum.