Cognex Beats Lemelson....Again!
NATICK, Mass. -- Sept. 12, 2005 -- Cognex Corporation (NASDAQ: CGNX), the world's leading supplier of machine vision systems, announced today that on September 9th, 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed an earlier lower court decision that the claims of 14 machine vision patents asserted by the Lemelson Partnership are unenforceable for reasons of prosecution laches. The complete text of Friday's Appeals Court Ruling can be found on Cognex's web site.
Cognex initiated the lawsuit against the Lemelson Partnership on September 23, 1998. The original ruling in favor of Cognex and eight other plaintiffs was issued by Judge Philip Pro of the U.S. District Court in Nevada on January 23, 2004. In that decision, Judge Pro ruled that the Lemelson patent claims were unenforceable under the doctrine of prosecution laches, and in addition, that the claims were invalid for lack of enablement, and not infringed by Cognex. The Lemelson Partnership appealed the ruling on June 23, 2004.
By upholding the lower court's decision that the patents are unenforceable for reasons of prosecution laches, the U.S. Court of Appeals said that it need not consider any of Lemelson's other appeal claims. The doctrine of prosecution laches states that certain legal claims may be found unenforceable due to an unreasonable or unexplained delay in prosecuting those claims. The Court ruling indicated that the doctrine should be used sparingly and only in egregious cases of misuse of the patent system. In the case of the contested Lemelson machine vision patents, prosecution was delayed by as much as 39 years after the filing of the original patent.
‘‘This ruling confirms Cognex's belief that Lemelson abused the patent system when he obtained his so-called 'machine vision' patents. And, the ruling also helps to give credit for the development of machine vision to those who truly deserve it...the many highly skilled engineers at Cognex and elsewhere who have spent years inventing, developing and manufacturing the machine vision products that serve industry so well today,’‘ said Dr. Robert J. Shillman, Chairman and CEO of Cognex.
Dr. Shillman continued, ‘‘The Lemelson Partnership can appeal this most recent ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court...and we hope they do, because it would give us a reason for another victory celebration!’‘
Cognex Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets machine vision systems, or computers that can ‘‘see.’‘ Cognex is the world's leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped more than 275,000 machine vision systems, representing over $1.9 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company's founding in 1981. Cognex's Modular Vision Systems Division, headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, specializes in machine vision systems that are used for automating the manufacture of a wide range of discrete items and for assuring their quality. Cognex's Surface Inspection Systems Division, headquartered in Alameda, California, specializes in machine vision systems that are used for inspecting the surfaces of products manufactured in a continuous fashion, such as metals, papers, and plastics. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, Cognex also has regional offices and distributors located throughout North America, Japan, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Visit Cognex on-line at http://www.cognex.com/.