Ocado’s ongoing legal battle with US rival AutoStore has been put on hold by a German court after questions were raised over the action.
Munich District Court suspended proceedings brought by Ocado for an order to block the sale of AutoStore’s B1 robot in Germany, amid concerns about Ocado’s intellectual property rights.
The court considered that, despite Ocado having made significant last-minute amendments to the claims for its utility models, they are likely to be invalid.
It said this is because the claims are seeking to cover more than had been disclosed in the application for the utility models as originally filed, and told Ocado it is trying to make a claim over technology it did not invent.
The online grocer and technology company brought the action against AutoStore in Germany, with the latter filing its own claim of patent infringement in 2020.
Both companies produce robots used in warehouses to pick goods for online shopping and have launched actions against each other across the globe.
An infringement action launched in October 2020 in the UK is currently before the High Court.
And last month, a US court threw out AutoStore’s attempts to claim patent infringement by Ocado in the country.
An Ocado spokesperson said the court action continues and the pause is part of the legal process in Germany because there are parallel hearings taking place in the country.
She added: “The RNS statement made by AutoStore gives only a partial account of the state of the proceedings in Germany and is therefore misleading.
“In German infringement proceedings conducted yesterday, the Munich District Court examined AutoStore’s infringement of one of Ocado’s Utility Model rights.”
The latest courtroom drama comes in a week when Online revealed it has developed new robots that will enable cheaper, faster deliveries and help with labour shortages by requiring fewer staff in its warehouses.
A robotic picking arm due in warehouses from the end of this year will speed up processes and reduce the need for staff pickers by up to 80%.
And another new system that will automatically pack bags of groceries destined for shoppers’ homes into crates, ready to be loaded on to vans, will reduce labour costs by 30%, Ocado said.