Legal Issues and Cummins Inc. and Patent and Manufacturers and Law and Manufacturing & Technology

BorgWarner sues Cummins over patents on turbochargers

October 27, 2011

BorgWarner Inc., the world’s biggest maker of automatic-transmission parts for vehicles, filed a lawsuit accusing Cummins Inc. of infringing on three patents for a titanium wheel used in engine turbochargers.

BorgWarner said it has “made considerable investments in improving turbocharger technologies,” and Cummins is using the inventions “with reckless disregard” for BorgWarner’s rights, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Asheville, N.C.

Turbochargers are used to improve the power and efficiency of smaller engines, and governments are pushing automakers to increase fuel economy in vehicles. BorgWarner in July said its second-quarter profit almost doubled, and the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company boosted its forecast for revenue and profit for this year because of increased turbocharger sales.

BorgWarner previously sued Honeywell International Inc. over the same patents and settled the case in May for $32.5 million.

Cummins, based in Columbus, said Tuesday that quarterly sales in its components unit, which includes turbochargers, rose 32 percent, to $1.02 billion. Janet Williams, a spokeswoman for the company, said Cummins doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The compressor wheels at issue in the case direct air to an engine’s intake manifold. BorgWarner’s inventions are related to a cost-effective cast titanium compressor wheel, the design of the wheel and a method for making turbochargers with the titanium wheel.

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