(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) has been sued for allegedly infringing a patent that covers a fuel-injection system it uses in its top-selling F-150 truck.
According to a complaint made public on Thursday, TMC Fuel Injection System of Wayne, Pennsylvania, is the assignee and owner of the January 2008 patent, which covers a fuel flow process intended to improve overall fuel economy, lower exhaust emissions and reduce idle speed.
It was invented in 2002 by a Harvard University-trained engineer it employed, Shou Hou, who in later years communicated several times with Ford personnel about TMC possibly licensing the technology to the automaker, the complaint said.
TMC said that in August 2008 Ford decided against licensing the technology, but nonetheless has been incorporating it in vehicles including the F-150.
Saying it has been "irreparably harmed" by Ford's "willful and deliberate" infringement, TMC is seeking a halt to any infringement, plus compensatory and triple damages.
Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, had no immediate comment, having yet to review the complaint.
TMC filed its case with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Robert Sachs, a partner at Shrager, Spivey & Sachs, who represents TMC, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ford's F-Series pickups are by far the largest-selling vehicle in the United States, as reported by automakers.
Sales totaled 350,455 from January to July, 44 percent higher than No. 2-ranked Toyota Camry, and 57 percent higher than the F-Series' main rival, the Chevrolet Silverado-C/K.
The case is TMC Fuel Injection System LLC v. Ford Motor Co, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 12-04971.
Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by M.D. Golan