Alex SeverinksyAlex Severinsky is a Russian man who came to the United States in 1978. He graduated from Ukraine's Kharkiv University of Radioelectronics in 1967 before moving on to an Electrical Engineering Ph.D. from Moscow's Institute for Precision Measurements in Radioelectronics and Physics in 1975. That's the background. Here's the important bit.

In 1994, Severinsky patented an invention he called Hyperdrive, which allows for a seamless transition between drive systems – what essentially allows hybrid vehicles to operate smoothly while switching between gas and electric power. Toyota uses a system similar to Hyperdrive in its hybrid vehicles yet the automaker states they developed this technology independent of Severinsky's research. Regardless, thanks to a lengthy lawsuit, the automaker is now forced to pay Alex Severinksy for every single hybrid vehicle it sells.

Toyota has sold over one million hybrids in the United States and more than two million around the world. It's ordered by the court to pay Paice, an organization which exists solely to litigate companies that may be infringing upon Severinsky's patents, $98 for every single hybrid it sells.

We've followed the court battle between Paice and Toyota for a few years now. Two years ago, the automaker lost its appeal case over the patents for hybrid technology. Just three months ago it settled the dispute with Paice, ahead of a scheduled hearing with the International Trade Commission. Ford, who was pending legal action for the hybrid system in its Fusion, also settled with Paice.

AOL Autos outlines the facts of Alex Severinsky's patents, the Paice organization and how one man's Hyperdrive system has affected numerous automakers. It's an interesting look into the world of patent law and is well worth the read.

[Source: AOL Autos]