Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Battery-Fueled Power Tools Labeled Ripoffs

MILWAUKEE (CN) - The self-proclaimed pioneer behind power tools fueled by lithium-ion batteries filed eight federal patent-infringement suits.

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. and its fellow patent-holders filed suit Thursday against power tool heavy-hitters like Snap-On Inc. and Hilti Inc. for using multi-cell lithium ion batteries in their products.

"As demonstrated by defendant's infringement of the Patents-In-Suit, handheld cordless power tools utilizing Milwaukee Tool's foundational inventions related to Li-Ion powered battery packs dominate the industry," one of the eight nearly identical complaints states.

Milwaukee Electric Tool claims to be the assignee of three patents at issue: "Lithium-Based Battery Pack for a Hand-Held Power Tool," "Lithium-Based Battery Pack for a High Current Draw, Hand Held Power Tool," and "Method and System of Charging Multi-Cell Lithium-Based Batteries."

The inventions allegedly came about when the power tool industry was in need of a new power source to replace nickel-cadmium batteries.

"Even at their plateau, NiCad batteries could not successfully provide power equivalent to a corded, line-voltage power tool in a format for handheld cordless power tools because NiCad batteries of sufficient power were too heavy and bulky to be commercially viable," the complaint states.

Lithium-ion technology was seen as "unsuitable" for cordless, handheld power tools until Milwaukee Power Tool introduced the first such product in 2005, according to the complaint.

"Industry press at the time of Milwaukee Tool's introduction praised the quantum leap forward represented by Milwaukee Tool's new technology," the complaint states. "The broad acknowledgement of Milwaukee Tool's revolutionary invention culminated with Milwaukee Tool's receipt of many industry awards for innovation."

All that recognition is alleged to have garnered more than a few imitators.

"Every competitor in the handheld cordless power tool industry... soon adopted Milwaukee Tool's inventions and transitioned, at least in the use of Li-Ion powered battery packs in their handheld cordless power tools," the complaint states.

Those competitors now face liability of over their adoption of the alleged "de facto industry standard" for their products.

Milwaukee Electric Tool, joined by Metco Battery Technologies, AC (Macao Commercial Offshore) Ltd., and Techtronic Industries Co., say they deserve treble damages for the willful infringement.

In addition to a determination of patent infringement, the plaintiffs want an injunction against the continued sale of infringing products.

They are represented by Scott Hansen with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

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