Ocado triumphs over AutoStore in ‘misconceived’ court battle

Ocado has batted away accusations of patent infringement from AutoStore, a robotics firm, in the first round of a court case.

Three AutoStore patents are invalid, while Ocado does not breach a fourth, US International Trade Commission Judge Charles Bullock ruled.

According to The Telegraph, the decision still needs to be reviewed by the commission, with the final verdict expected in April.

Losing the case would have been disastrous for the FTSE 100 business, which might have seen it blocked from bringing robots into the US market.

READ MORE: Jefferies: Ocado can save supermarkets from e-commerce

Ocado commented: “This was a misconceived attempt by AutoStore to interfere with our business in the United States.” 

The companies have been quarreling since 2016 but the mood soured just before Ocado signed a deal with Kroger, the American supermarket giant.

AutoStore, which started in the 1990s with a vertical grid robotic warehouse system, claimed its technology forms the basis of Ocado’s automated hubs.

In a Q4 trading update released today, Ocado’s retail arm said that order numbers were up 8.5%, but smaller basket sizes meant revenue had dipped 4%.

Shares are trading around 1736p, an increase of 8.8% since yesterday.

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