STUTTGART -- Daimler could lose its U.S. patent for the BlueTec exhaust gas treatment process, just as it has in Europe.
Catalytic converter manufacturer Umicore has not yet decided whether to challenge Daimler's patent in the U.S. "We are basically reserving that right," a spokesman for the company told sister publication Automobilwoche.
Complaints from Umicore finally killed Daimler's European patent (EP 1054 722 B1). In early June, the European patent office decided the question against Daimler. The issue had been in dispute for years.
This means the technology is freely available to anyone, at least in Europe. According to parties involved in the case, nearly every vehicle manufacturer in the world sent their patent specialists to hearings on the issue.
The importance of SCRT, or selective catalytic reduction technology, is immense for the entire industry: In combination with particulate filters, exhaust treatments are considered a key technology for cars and commercial vehicles alike.
This is true both in Europe, with its Euro 6 emissions standard, and in the United States. That's why Daimler was looking forward to high license fees for the use of the technology. It uses urea, an organic chemical, to reduce nitrogen oxides in vehicle emissions.