Ocado stumbles as AutoStore files fresh lawsuits over robotic retrieval system

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Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) shares were stung on Tuesday after Norwegian group AutoStore said it has filed new legal complaints accusing the online grocery giant of infringing on its patent for its robotic storage and retrieval system.

On Monday, AutoStore said it has filed an entitlement action in the UK with the Intellectual Property Office to confirm that it is the inventor and rightful owner of certain patents filed by Ocado since June 2014 relating to the methods, systems and apparatus for controlling the movement of robots in automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) systems such as the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP).

READ: Rise of the robots – Ocado enters non-food retail and logistics sectors with new acquisitions

More specifically, AutoStore said the patents relate to optimising the placement of product within an AS/RS as well as safety features to bring robots to a halt.

“Ocado took advantage of being our customer and having access to AutoStore’s market-leading technology and then attempted to assert ownership over what it had learned from AutoStore by filing its own patents”, AutoStore chief executive Karl Johan Lier said in a statement.

“In addition to the action we’ve already taken to protect and assert our existing patents, this action will establish that AutoStore invented these technologies and should therefore be recognised as the rightful owner of Ocado’s corresponding patents”, he added.

AutoStore’s move follows similar legal action taken by the company last month, when it filed three separate complaints, including one in the English High Court, alleging that the FTSE 100 firm had infringing technology patents connected to its OSP.

At the time, Ocado said it had not received any papers relating to AutoStore’s claims and they were “not aware of any infringement of any valid Autostore rights”.

However, investors seemed less than impressed as the shares fell 3% to 2,215p in lunchtime trading.

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