By John Barry
firstname.lastname@example.org (860) 334-2501
Posted Feb. 28, 2015 at 9:11 PM
Norwich native Robert Evans, who owns a small manufacturing company in Worcester, Mass., is taking on corporate giant General Dynamics in court.
A lawsuit filed three years ago claims General Dynamics Land Systems stole Evans’ company’s design for key equipment on a new tank that was being designed for the Marine Corps.
“Word for word, they have violated our patent,” Evans said last week. “I’m not going to let it go away.”
Evans grew up in Norwich and graduated from St. Bernard School in Montville and Northeastern University in Boston.
He went to work in the electrical heating industry. In 1998, Evans decided to go out on his own.
He operated his company, Infinity Fluids, out of his parents’ garage in Norwich, designing and building high-tech heaters. It was just him, he said, with his parents occasionally lending a hand.
Later, Evans moved the company to his own home in Sturbridge, Mass., and now it is in Worcester.
“We really did struggle from 1998 to 2005,” Evans said. For all that period, he was the company’s only full-time worker.
Infinity Fluids now has five employees, and last year had more than $1 million in annual sales, Evans said. Buyers of its technology have included Pfizer and Intel.
“In 2008, General Dynamics contacted us, and that’s where the whole mess started,” Evans said.
General Dynamics Land Systems, headquartered in Michigan, is a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp. It builds many of the U.S. military’s armored vehicles.
General Dynamics Corp. also owns submarine maker Electric Boat in Groton, which employs almost 12,000 people in the region. The corporation raked in $5.48 billion in profits in 2014.
In the late 1990s, General Dynamics Land Systems began designing a new armored vehicle for the Marines called the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The tank was supposed to be able to be launched from a ship from miles out at sea, swim itself ashore carrying a Marine rifle squad and then fight successfully on land.
In 2008, General Dynamics had a problem, according to Infinity Fluid’s lawsuit. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle couldn’t start in very cold weather.
“Their only solution was a gas-fired trailer,” Evans said. “It was very cumbersome.”
Evans said General Dynamics was told that the cold-weather starting issue was mission critical — in other words, solve it or the contract might be canceled. By this time, the Pentagon had already spent several billion dollars on the program.
General Dynamics turned to Infinity Fluids, Evans said.
“Our technology lends itself perfectly to this problem,” he said. “