How the wayward Indian subsidiary of a German wind turbine maker quashed some of its owner’s intellectual property rights

In January 1994, Enercon, a 10-year-old German wind turbine maker, acquired a majority interest in a newly created Indian company called Wind World Power. The company was renamed Enercon India and structured as a joint venture in which Enercon came to own 56% and the Mehra Group, which had founded the company, retained 44% of the shares.

Like many niche operators in Germany at the time, Enercon was looking to expand into emerging economies. Yet somehow it lost control of its Indian investment. A series of disputes erupted between the two companies over the transfer of technology and the supply of spare parts. Then late last year, acting on an application filed by Enercon India, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) shocked the German company by revoking 12 Indian patents owned by its founder and controlling shareholder Aloys Wobben.

“We have completely written off our investment in Enercon India,” Enercon’s legal counsel, Stefan Knottnerus-Meyer, told the New York Times shortly after the IPAB’s decision was announced.

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