SemaConnect Fights Back in ChargePoint Lawsuit

SemaConnect ChargePro EVSE
SemaConnect is fighting back against a patent claim lawsuit brought by rival EV charging company, ChargePoint. A lawyer for the Maryland-based SemaConnect, Inc. sent a letter to U. S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis saying that ChargePoint’s Motion For Emergency Injunctive Relief should be summarily denied. A hearing on the Motion is scheduled in U. S. District Court in Baltimore on Friday, December 22, 2017.

In correspondence to the Judge, SemaConnect’s representative stated, “At its core, ChargePoint’s Motion is an obvious attempt to restrain free and fair competition by asserting baseless patent infringement claims against SemaConnect instead of competing fairly in the market.”

SemaConnect & ChargePoint Competed for Electrify America Contract

SemaConnect argued that granting the injunctive relief would harm the public’s interest because it would delay the deployment of hundreds of EV charging stations around the country that would help reduce carbon emissions. In the document, SemaConnect explained that in March 2017, Electrify America invited suppliers of EV charging stations to submit a request for proposal (RFP) for a contract to provide “community charging stations” to be financed under the $2 billion ZEV Investment Plan mandated by a settlement with Volkswagon. Companies including SemaConnect and ChargePoint, submitted RFPs for the contract. Electrify America ultimately chose three companies: SemaConnect, Greenlots, and EVConnect. However, ChargePoint was not selected and did not receive any funding.

The SemaConnect representative wrote,

ChargePoint claims to be “the market leader in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. SemaConnect, on the other hand, is, at least according to ChargePoint, “a minor player in the market.” As SemaConnect continues to grow, however, it threatens to negatively impact ChargePoint’s purported market dominance. In a desperate attempt to stop, or slow-down SemaConnect’s rapid rise within the electric vehicle charging industry, ChargePoint has come to this Court under the guise of a purported patent infringement action, seeking extraordinary injunctive relief that would stop SemaConnect’s legitimate expansion efforts right in their tracks. In actuality, this dispute has nothing to do with ChargePoint’s patents (which are invalid); instead, it has everything to do with ChargePoint’s attempts to use the courts to preserve its fragile market dominance—efforts which have time and time again failed.

SemaConnect, trying to convince the Judge wrote, “ChargePoint has failed to show that it will suffer irreparable harm absent a temporary restraining order.” And added, “ChargePoint’s Motion is entirely silent on whether it licenses its patents. To the extent ChargePoint licenses its patents, any harm it claims to have suffered would be compensable in the form of a licensing fee… We understand that ChargePoint recently offered to license its patents to the Open Charge Point Protocol, a standards organization for setting protocols for EV charging. This fact alone kills ChargePoint’s Motion.”

On the matter of the patent claims themselves, SemaConnect asserted that ChargePoint is not likely to succeed on the merits,

ChargePoint describes its patents as directed to “network-controlled EV charging infrastructure” and describes each asserted patent as being a system, apparatus, or method for communicating and providing “network-controlled charging”—a textbook example of a patent ineligible abstract idea… According to ChargePoint, the network defined by the patent claims is the Internet. There is nothing new about an electric vehicle charging station—this has been a concept in practice for years and SemaConnect has had products in the market that do just that since March 10, 2011.

At this point it is unclear what effect a Temporary Restraining Order would have on SemaConnect’s ability to provide service to current customers and EV driver support.

We continue to follow developments in this case.

Case Documents:
1. Plaintiff’s Memorandum in Support of Motion for Emergency Injunctive Relief PDF
2. Declaration of David Baxter PDF
3. Correspondence re: Hearing on ChargePoint Inc.’s Motion for Emergency Injunctive Relief PDF

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