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Ford Faces Patent Suit

Technology company filed a lawsuit, claiming several of the electronic features Ford includes in its vehicles violate the company's patents.

TACOMA, Washington (AP) -- A technology company has filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., claiming several of the electronic features the automaker includes in its vehicles violate the company's patents.

Eagle Harbor Holdings LLC and subsidiary, MediusTech LLC, filed the patent infringement case against the Dearborn, Michigan, car company in federal court in Tacoma, Washington state, on Thursday.

Jeff Harmes, Eagle Harbor's general counsel, estimated that, should the company prevail in its claim, compensation could be in the millions.

The lawsuit centers on patents involving software and electronic components that are used in features to make phone calls, play music and access navigation tools with vocal commands. The patents also make possible car safety features that rely on sensors, such as parking assistance and stability control.

Eagle Harbor claims that Ford has used and continues to use the companies' patented technology in multiple vehicle systems, including SYNC, Active Park Assist, Blind-Spot Identification System with Cross Traffic Alert, Integrated Control System for Stability Control and MyKey.

Eagle Harbor, which is based in Bainbridge Island, says that its representatives began meeting with Ford in 2002 to discuss the potential use of its patented technology in Ford vehicles, but Ford broke off discussions in 2008. The following two years, Eagle Harbor said, it noticed Ford vehicles featured electronic systems that infringed on its patents.

"Ford is ignoring our patent rights and continues to use, without permission or license, Eagle Harbor's technology," Harmes said.

Eagle Harbor's chairman, Dan Preston, is the investor of most of the patents asserted in the complaint and, along with his son, Joe, co-founded a company that deployed the General Motors OnStar system.

Ford issued a statement Tuesday declining to comment on the lawsuit because it hasn't had an opportunity to review the case yet.

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