Ocado has dubbed a statement by rival warehouse tech company AutoStore about legal proceedings over patents in a German court last week as “highly misleading”.

On Friday, the Norwegian company issued a regulatory notice stating a district court in Munich had stayed proceedings brought by Ocado to block the sale of AutoStore’s B1 robot in Germany, because “Ocado’s utility model IP rights in the action were likely to be invalid”.

“The court’s view was that Ocado were trying to claim technology they had not invented,” AutoStore said in the communication.

But this portrayal of the decision is “highly misleading”, an Ocado spokeswoman told The Grocer.

“The stay is a procedural step in the litigation, which we will continue to pursue vigorously to its successful conclusion,” she added.

The Munich District Court told Reuters that AutoStore had not accurately portrayed the court’s views and that the subject of invention or non-invention was not part of the hearing.

AutoStore’s claim “has since been specifically corrected by the Munich court which made it clear that AutoStore ‘had not accurately reflected’ the situation and that the court had not yet made any determination about the validity of our patent” the Ocado spokeswoman said.

The two companies have been locked in legal wranglings over patents for several years. In September 2020, AutoStore filed patent infringement lawsuits in the UK and the US, seeking court orders to stop Ocado from making, selling or importing its warehouse robotics technology, also seeking financial damages.

“Our ownership of the technology at the heart of Ocado’s warehousing system is clear,” AutoStore CEO and president Karl Johan Lier said at the time in a statement. “We will not tolerate Ocado’s continued infringement of our intellectual property rights in its effort to boost its growth and attempt to transform itself into a global technology company.”

In December last year, Ocado announced it had won a patent infringement trial against warehouse robotics rival AutoStore at the International Trade Commission. The ITC judge ruled that three of the four AutoStore patents in question were invalid, and a fourth had not been infringed. A fifth patent was abandoned by AutoStore the night before the trial, Ocado said.

Litigation in the UK High Court remains live and is due to be heard in six weeks’ time. AutoStore has abandoned infringement claims against Ocado Group in relation to two of three patent families, Ocado said.

“This represents another significant victory for Ocado Group in the ongoing litigation,” Ocado said. “We estimate wasted costs for AutoStore will run to several million pounds on this case alone, and Ocado Group will be seeking to recover their own costs in this case, which will be several million more.”

“This has been another monumental waste of time and money by AutoStore,” an Ocado spokeswoman added.

AutoStore said on Friday that “all other AutoStore actions continue as before”, including the High Court action.

“None of these legal developments affects the operations or success of our growing global business,” AutoStore said. “As the pioneer of cube storage automation, we have secured hundreds of patents since our founding.”