The two companies announced this in an announcement on the stock exchange at noon on Saturday.
The two companies have been involved in numerous legal patent disputes over several years regarding automated warehouse solutions, and have now entered into a settlement. This means that all claims and accusations in legal disputes between the two fighting men have now been withdrawn.
The parties don’t share all of the terms of the settlement, but a set of them do appear in the exchange’s announcement: Autostore must, among other things, pay Ocado £200m, the equivalent of NOK 2.5bn, over the next 24 months.
We are pleased to have reached an agreement that gives both companies the opportunity and freedom to market our extensive patent portfolios. This settlement resolves our differences, and allows us to continue to focus on our own operational goals,” Autostore CEO Mats Hovland-Vix comments in the letter.
Moreover, both companies are completely free to use technology covered by both companies’ patents before 2020. Both companies will also be allowed to use and market their own products based on the patents after 2020, without risk of infringement.
The two companies also get access to parts of each other’s patents, which they can use in their own products if they so desire.
Another stipulation is that Autostore is not permitted to make or use a specific type of warehouse robot in all jurisdictions in which Ocado has patent protection.
– I am convinced that we were able to reach an agreement in a constructive and cooperative manner. We can now move forward and focus on delivering world-leading technology to our partners,” says Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado.
Several years of “skirmishes”
The dispute began in 2020, when Autostore sued the Ocado Group for patent infringement on several of its technologies.
Ocado is actually a company that delivers groceries to the door, much like Oda here at home.
In 2012, the company researched storage solutions and met with Autostore for negotiations. The collaboration didn’t last long: after a short time the atmosphere soured, and Ocado took home the basic Autostore concept and modified it to its own needs.
Hence it developed its own version of Autostore’s automated warehouse concept: a square grid that provided air between the shelves in a normal warehouse, stacking goods high. Bots run around upstairs, picking up boxes as needed.
There have been small skirmishes between the two companies over the years, but in 2020 the bot wars began in earnest, when Autostore launched several international lawsuits against Ocado.
More than half a billion crowns have been spent
The Norwegian company has put a lot on the line – Autostore’s costs linked to the lawsuits amount to more than half a billion kroner spread over 2021 and 2022.
“We will not tolerate Ocado’s repeated infringement of our patent rights, in its attempt to grow faster and become a global technology company,” said then-CEO Carl-Johan Lear when the news became known.
Across the Atlantic, Autostore has accused Ocado of 33 patent violations, but the International Trade Commission, the International Trade Commission, has twice dismissed the charges.
Over the years, Autostore has been able to sell its bot solutions at margins of up to 50 percent, and has signaled to the market that it should stay high. In this regard, it was necessary to secure the patents that make the business so profitable.
– The money and energy they spend on a patent case says something about how important it is to be considered. But there are several barriers to entry around their model, which are also key here, analyst Eric Ravdal of brokerage Carnegie told DN last spring. (conditions)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and/or our suppliers. We’d like you to share our statuses using links that lead directly to our pages. Reproduction or other use of all or part of the Content may be made only with written permission or as permitted by law. For more terms see here.
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”