LONDON – Analog Devices Inc. has said that U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled patents belonging to Knowles Electronics LLC invalid. As a result Administrative Law Judge Robert K. Rogers Jr. has quashed attempts to stop ADI from importing or selling its microphones in the United States.
The ruling followed his order of March 24 that denied Knowles request for temporary relief, said ADI (Norwood, Mass.). The rulings are in line with those of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which in separate re-examinations, has rejected all of Knowles' asserted claims as invalid, ADI said.
"Since bringing our first MEMS microphone products to market in 2008, ADI has maintained our focus on innovation and providing the highest performance MEMS microphones available," commented Mark Martin, Analog Devices' vice president of MEMS and sensor technology group, in a statement.
Separately, Analog Devices has sued Knowles for shipping microphone products which infringe ADI's patented wafer anti-stiction application (WASA) process. Judge Rogers is expected to rule on the WASA case on or before Jan. 4, 2011.
The Emkay Innovative Products division of Knowles Electronics (Itasca, Ill.) introduced its microphone based on silicon MEMS technology in February 2003.
Many patent applications make very broad claims, some of which would/should not be made based on a reasonable search of prior art before the application is filed. Additionally, the Patent Office either does not do an adequate search or does not really understand the claim(s) relative to prior art and therefore allows the claim(s) to stand, only to be invalidated later in court.
Patents are not "just an easy way for the US to make money." They are a justifiable means for inventors to protect and benefit from the intellectual property they create regardless of the country of origination. It is not a US only situation.
Others can properly license and use the IP, or wait for the patent to expire (unless renewed) in order to use the IP.
And yes, patents can be used as a scare tactic. More often, patents are used to settle issues between similar competing companies in that you will often see a settlement in the form of cross-licensing one or more patents with no money exchanging hands (except to the lawyers).
Without the benefit of a valid patent it is highly likely than many inventions would not have been made or made available to society.
As a side note: One of the key provisions among many of the climate treaty that the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was trying to put together to fight so-called anthropological global warming (AGW), and now being recognized as based on poor science, was that technologically advanced countries and companies had to provide their energy and environmentally related patent portfolios to less developed countries and companies at essentially no charge...for as long as it took to solve the AGW problem.
Read the proposals if you get a chance. Try page 46, paragraph 6 at the following URL.
I have thought that the US Patent system has been broken for many years now and is just an easy way for the US to make money and does not have to be involved in any court litigation. Seems like patents are just useful as scare tactics anymore.
That the patent was granted in the first place demonstrates weakness in the patent search done by the examiner at USPTO. Careful review of quotas, staffing, and tools at USPTO quickly explain why. As is the case in so many places today we are trying to do too much with too few personnel and too little support. For hopeful applicants, this also highlights the need for getting your own GOOD search done to ensure your claims will be valid.
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