A Georgia inventor has won the second round in his fight with the giant Caterpillar Corp. over rights to technology behind a new diesel engine that has brought the company billions of dollars in sales.
On Thursday, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office examiner declared for the second time that most of the claims for which Caterpillar was awarded a patent last year were not patentable because Clyde Bryant of Alpharetta, now 78, had already invented them.
At stake in the patent fight are the rights to an idea that Caterpillar has used to sell more than 200,000 of its award-winning "ACERT" diesel engines.
Bryant, a retired Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chemist, last October challenged a 2004 patent awarded to two Caterpillar engineers for a system of injecting a charge of cooled air into a diesel engine at a critical point in the combustion cycle. He claimed the patent was a restatement of a system that he patented in 2001.
Both Bryant's patent and the one awarded to two Caterpillar engineers last year claim the technique results in sharply improved engine efficiency, reducing both pollution and fuel use.
Hopefully they get it sorted out soon. The back royalties could get pretty large.