UPDATE: Royal Enfield has issued a media statement that reads, “We would like to clarify that the said component is supplied to us by an external, proprietary supplier, which independently develops and owns the IP rights for the said component. The supplier denies the plaintiff’s claims vehemently.” The company has also said that it is actively evaluating the issue internally and seeking legal advice from its US counsels.
Flash Electronics India has filed a law suit against Royal Enfield for patent infringement in the US, regarding production of a key component for motorcycles. As per the suit filed, Royal Enfield has allegedly infringed on the Indian electronic and electric auto components maker’s patent on a ‘Regulator Rectifier Device and Method for Regulating an Output Voltage of the Same’ issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to Flash Electronics on February 20, 2018.
When contacted by our sister publication Autocar Professional, a Royal Enfield official confirmed that “the company is in receipt of the notice and our teams in the USA are reviewing the same.”
Flash Electronics says its R&D department made a breakthrough invention of the component in 2014. Since then, the company has been the manufacturer and supplier of this component to many leading two-wheeler manufacturers in India and overseas.
The regulator-rectifier is a vital component that converts the AC (Alternating Current) voltage produced by motorcycle engines into DC (Direct Current) voltage to charge the battery, power the headlights and light up the instrument panel – essentially its function is to drive a motorcycle’s electrical systems.
Besides the USA, Flash Electronics has been granted a patent in other countries including Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Austria and Switzerland as well as Turkey. The Indian company is expected to file similar suits in the respective jurisdictions, soon.
Commenting on the issue, Sanjeev Vasdev, founder and managing director, Flash Electronics India, said “Flash Electronics is a responsible and mature member of the automotive community, manufacturing cutting edge engineering products since decades and is recognised on a global automotive front for its strong in-house R&D capabilities. We have been trusted suppliers to leading auto manufacturers across India and overseas and it’s unfortunate to have to deal with such an unexpected and unprecedented act on the part of Royal Enfield, one of the most prestigious names in the automotive sector. This incident is highly objectionable and has dented the credibility of the brand, at least with us as a partner.”
According to the press note, “Flash Electronics will take all necessary action required across the world to ensure that Royal Enfield stops infringing the patent and pays compensation for the violation which would run into millions of dollars.”
Flash Electronics, set up in 1989, has its core competency in manufacturing of electronic and electrical auto components. Flash has also entered the market for gears for two- and four-wheelers and invested Rs 400 crore in setting up two new plants.
Recently Flash has raised Rs 200 crore from private equity firm DMI finance to further expand operations. The funds will be utilised to upgrade products for transition to BS VI emission standards and scale up its existing business. Flash says it has developed a complete solution for electric vehicles and aims to be a major supplier of components as the market grows.
In October 2015, the company acquired Germany’s Bing Power System to expand its global footprint. The group supplies components to Bajaj Auto, India Yamaha Motor, Maruti Suzuki India and Jawa Motorcycles, among others. Globally, it counts Porsche, Audi, BMW, KTM, Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Triumph and BRP-Rotax among its clientele.