Lidar maker Ouster Inc. has sued Chinese rival Hesai Inc., alleging patent infringement. It is seeking to bar Hesai from importing the autonomous vehicle technology in question to the U.S.
The complaint filed with the International Trade Commission asks the commission to investigate Shanghai-based Hesai. San Francisco-based Ouster also sued Hesai in U.S. District Court in Delaware, seeking an injunction and monetary damages.
Hesai, with customers that include autonomous truck software developer Kodiak Robotics, did not respond to a FreightWaves request for comment.
Ouster seeks to bar Hesai from importing suspect technology
Ouster’s complaint asks the ITC to investigate unlawful imports of Hesai lidar sensors that infringe on five of the company’s patents related to lidar technology. Lidar is a detection system that works on the principle of radar but uses light from a laser.
The patents “reflect the substantial investments the company has made in the United States relating to both rotating and non-rotating solid-state lidar systems,” the company said in a news release. “After the market shifted toward Ouster’s digital lidar, Hesai stole Ouster’s revolutionary patented technologies and incorporated them into Hesai’s competing products.”
The Ouster complaint asks the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order against Hesai and related entities to bar the U.S. import of Hesai’s lidar devices, components and products alleged to infringe on the company’s patents.
Ouster invented a digital lidar technology that uses a high-resolution sensor with a simplified architecture based on two silicon chips. Its digital platform can be manufactured at scale with high performance and low cost, the company said in the release.
Velodyne Lidar, which Ouster purchased in February, previously sued Hesai for patent infringement. Hesai agreed topay Velodyne millions in upfront payments and ongoing royalties. Velodyne also sued its now parent company alleging patentin fringement last June. That case went away when the two startups announced their merger in November.
“As companies attempt to copy our digital approach, we will continue to vigorously enforce our intellectual property until the infringing products are barred,” Ouster CEO Angus Pacala said. “Lidar is a critical technology providing vision for advanced automation and smart technologies across supply chains, infrastructure and defense.”
Ouster board approves 1:10 reverse stock split
Separately, Ouster’s board of directors approved a 1-for-10 reverse stock split in Ouster shares on Thursday. That should help the company retain its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, where it has traded below $1 a share since March 15. The reverse split will increase the price of Ouster, at least temporarily, because fewer shares will be on the market.