Scanner makers battle over patents.
Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard
Lawsuits usually are bad news for companies. But Eugene-based bar-code scanner maker PSC (Public Service Commission) Same as PUC. contends that its patent infringement patent infringement n. the manufacture and/or use of an invention or improvement for which someone else owns a patent issued by the government, without obtaining permission of the owner of the patent by contract, license or waiver. disputes with two rivals are actually a good sign.
In the litigious litigious adj. referring to a person who constantly brings or prolongs legal actions, particularly when the legal maneuvers are unnecessary or unfounded. Such persons often enjoy legal battles, controversy, the courtroom, the spotlight, use the courts to punish bar-code scanning industry, the norm is for companies to lob (1) See BLOB.
(2) (Line Of Business) Refers to people, job titles and product lines, all of which pertain to a specific product or service area of the business. suits back and forth seeking to protect their complicated proprietary technologies.
PSC's legal patent disputes slowed last year when it was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. A Connecticut-based private investment group bought PSC and last summer PSC emerged from bankruptcy, transformed from a publicly traded company publicly traded company
A company whose shares of common stock are held by the public and are available for purchase by investors. The shares of publicly traded firms are bought and sold on the organized exchanges or in the over-the-counter market. to a privately held one.
PSC has about 550 employees in Eugene, making it one of the Eugene-Springfield area's largest technology companies.
Now, the pace of PSC's legal disputes is picking up.
"When we were financially weakened weak·en
tr. & intr.v. weak·ened, weak·en·ing, weak·ens
To make or become weak or weaker.
weaken·er n. and in bankruptcy, there wasn't much we could do about it," said Frank MacMurray, PSC's in-house general counsel.
"Now that the future of the company is not at issue, we feel we can invest the resources necessary to protect our very valuable intellectual property portfolio," he said.
In lawsuits filed in May in U.S. District Court in Oregon, PSC argues that NCR (NCR Corporation, Dayton, OH, www.ncr.com) A technology company specializing in financial terminal transactions, retail systems and data warehousing. Until the late 1990s, NCR was heavily invested in the hardware side of the industry, known worldwide as a major manufacturer of computers Corp. of Dayton, Ohio Dayton is a city in southwestern Ohio, United States. It is the county seat and largest city of Montgomery County. As of the 2005 census estimate, the population of Dayton was 158,873. , and Metrologic Corp. of Blackwood, N.J., are infringing on PSC patents - that is, using PSC technology without paying royalties to PSC. The patents are for a number of elements of PSC's laser scanners - intricate devices that read bar codes. PSC is suing NCR and Metrologic each over different patents.
Metrologic representatives did not return a phone call from The Register-Guard requesting comment.
John Hourigan, an NCR Corp. spokesman, said the company cannot comment on pending court matters. However, he said, "NCR allocates considerable resources to the research and development of our products and business solutions, and we'll aggressively assert our legal rights to protect our patent portfolio."
PSC filed suit against NCR on May 12, shortly after NCR had filed a similar suit against PSC in Dayton. Those suits are on hold, allowing for settlement discussions under a negotiated "standstill agreement Standstill agreement
Contract by which the bidding firm in a takeover attempt agrees to limit its holdings of another firm.
standstill agreement ," MacMurray said. The standstill agreement expires at the end of Aug. 9, he said.
The suits filed by PSC claim that the competitors are infringing patents on PSC technology, generally for fixed scanners. They ask the court to stop the rivals from using the technology and to award damages to PSC. The legal papers include a raft of exhibits showing detailed drawings and descriptions of patented technology.
It's unclear how long it will take to resolve the disputes and how they'll affect PSC's bottom line.
"You always hope they will get resolved quickly," MacMurray said. "But it's not uncommon for cases that involve patents to take three or four years to go from filing to a final trial," he said. "These cases typically involve experts, and it just adds a layer of complexity to cases that aren't present in cases that involve personal injury or contracts or property."