Velodyne takes wild ride in uncharted industry

Lidar patent

David Hall’s lidar patent has been the centerpiece of lawsuits. He won a patent appeal board ruling.

Key dates and developments in the history of lidar technology company Velodyne

1983: David Hall founds Velodyne Acoustics Ltd., a company focused on audio and acoustic technology.

2007: Five of the 6 vehicles that finish the DARPA Grand Challenge use Hall’s rotating lidar prototypes.

June 28, 2011: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awards Hall Patent 7,969,558, which covers rotating lidar units and will become the centerpiece of multiple lawsuits.

Jan. 15, 2016: Velodyne Lidar Inc. is created, splitting the company from the original Velodyne Acoustics.

Aug. 16, 2016: Ford and Baidu each invest $75 million in Velodyne. At an event announcing the investment, then-Ford CEO Mark Fields says the technology will enable Ford to produce fully autonomous cars by 2021.

Sept. 13, 2016: Rival lidar company Quanergy files suit against Velodyne Lidar, asserting it was the rightful inventor of rotating lidar.

May 23, 2019: The U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board issues a ruling affirming Hall’s rightful claim to rotating lidar technology. 

Aug. 13, 2019: Velodyne files lawsuits against 2 Chinese suppliers, Hesai and Suteng, alleging they infringed on the company’s patented rotating lidar technology.

Jan. 6, 2020: Hall appoints a new CEO, Anand Gopalan, who had previously been chief technology officer. Hall continues as the company’s full-time chairman.

April 3, 2020: A class-action lawsuit is filed against Velodyne, alleging the company violated federal labor law by not serving proper notice when it laid off approximately 140 employees March 20.

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