January 07, 2010

Schumer, Gillibrand, Tonko Call On ITC To Give GE A Fair Hearing

ITC expected to rule tomorrow on whether to ban infringing wind turbines from the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined Rep. Paul Tonko today in calling on the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the sale of wind turbines made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in the United States, if the Commission affirms the administrative law judge’s initial decision that MHI infringed on patents held by GE.

Sens. Schumer & Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko sent a letter to ITC Chairman Shara Aranoff, Vice Chairman Daniel Pearson and four other commissioners asking them to consider the analysis and conclusions presented by the presiding administrative law judge, who determined that the violations warrant exclusion of MHI’s wind turbines from the United States. The ITC is expected to make its decision tomorrow.

Schenectady, New York is the global headquarters for GE Wind Energy, which employs more than 3,600 people who work on research and development, engineering, testing, manufacturing, servicing and installing wind turbines. Additional sales of GE wind turbines as a result of the ITC upholding GE’s patented technology is crucial to the continued success of the Schenectady facility, and to the health of the local and state economy.

Senator Schumer said: “Alternative energy has the potential to create thousands upon thousands of jobs in New York, but we must make sure that American companies are getting a fair shot, and that’s what we’re asking the ITC to do.”

“Wind energy technology will create thousands of good-paying engineering, construction and manufacturing jobs right here at home, help us achieve energy security, and lower costs for consumers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The U.S. has been a world leader in developing turbine technology. Patent protection of these technologies needs to be upheld to ensure increased investment, innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies.”

Congressman Tonko said: “As we continue to ramp up research and development funding, especially in the wind energy sector, we need to ensure that those innovative and breakthrough technologies and ideas are patent protected. In a global economy we need to ensure intellectual property rights are rigorous and upheld.”


Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Chairman Aranoff, Vice Chairman Pearson, and Commissioners,

                It has come to our attention that the Commission currently is reviewing an administrative law judge’s decision on the infringement by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) of U.S. patents held by General Electric Company (GE) on its wind turbine technology.  We urge the Commission to consider the analysis and conclusions presented by the presiding judge.

               Schenectady, New York is the global headquarters for GE Wind’s business, and over 3600 workers are employed at this facility.  Many of these highly technical, engineering and product management positions are associated with the selling, siting and servicing of wind farms throughout North America.  The continued success of this facility is vital to the local and state economy, and is equally important to the development of an American-based center of alternative energy development, particularly wind-based energy.

                Central to investment in research and development as well as the deployment of clean technology are intellectual property rights.  Any efforts that weaken intellectual property right protections relating to clean technology pose a substantial competitive risk to U.S. businesses and workers and inhibit the creation of new green jobs and the transition to a green economy. 

               It is critical that in reviewing this case, the Commission consider the importance of the domestic industries and ensure that intellectual property rights are upheld. 

               Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.