AutoStore and Ocado ‘robot war’ spills into Germany
Norwegian warehouse robot maker AutoStore (OCDO.L) sparred on Friday over legal proceedings in Germany in their latest patent dispute.
AutoStore shares rose as much as 15% after the company issued a statement saying a Munich court had halted proceedings brought by Ocado to prevent the sale of one of AutoStore’s robots in Germany.
Ocado hit back by saying the Norwegian company had given only a partial account of the proceedings and that the case was still to be concluded.
Shares of AutoStore, which last month suffered a legal setback in the United States in a lawsuit of its own against Ocado, pared gains to trade up just 0.6% at 0939 GMT.
The companies, both of which provide labour-saving storage technology to the fast-growing online shopping industry, have been locked in a series of legal battles for years over intellectual property (IP) rights.
“The Munich District Court yesterday stayed proceedings brought by Ocado for orders blocking the sale of AutoStore’s B1 robot in Germany, noting that Ocado’s utility model IP rights in the action were likely to be invalid,” AutoStore said.
“The court’s view was that Ocado were trying to claim technology they had not invented,” it added.
But Ocado said the case would resume at a later time.
“The infringement action against AutoStore continues but must await confirmation of the validity of Ocado’s Utility Model right, which will be considered by a different court as is standard in Germany,” Ocado said.
Ocado’s shares traded down 5.5% in London.
Another patent case between the two rivals is still ongoing in Britain.
AutoStore, whose biggest owner is Japan’s SoftBank (9984.T), went public in October and its shares initially rose sharply. They have since fallen, partly as a result of the U.S. legal setback, and are down 47% from their November peak.