Toyota, like most companies, has to face a lot of lawsuits over the years. The latest comes from engineer/former patent attorney at Boeing, Conrad Gartner, who lives in Seattle.
Gartner filed a U.S. patent, #7,290,627 -- dubbed "Extended range motor vehicle having ambient pollutant processing", in 1992. It is a computer control system that shifts power to the internal combustion engine or electric motor.
Although he applied for the patent back in 1992, the patent was not issued until last Fall. In the meantime, Toyota applied for a patent in 1994 which was rejected, in part because of Gardner's prior claim.
Gardner says he has attempted to come to some sort of settlement with Toyota over the years, but has had no success. But with newly issued patent in hand, he can now try to force the issue by suing Toyota.
Seattle engineer sues Toyota on hybrid system
"I just want them to respect the patents of others," said Gardner when asked what he hoped to gain from the lawsuit. "I am trying to teach them a lesson, you might say. That a small fellow, an independent inventor, is going to stand up for his rights. That's all."The full complaint is here.
Toyota has been sued in the past by Solomon Technologies over patent infringement.