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Patent dispute rumbles on after verdict

01 February, 2003

A long-running patent dispute between two Californian motor manufacturers has ended with both sides claiming some sort of victory. The dispute dates back to 1999, when Santa-Clara-based Animatics filed a lawsuit alleging that QuickSilver Controls, located in Covina, had infringed its patent covering an "integrated DC servo motor and controller".

Animatics sells brushless DC motors, integrated with controllers, amplifiers and encoders (shown above), under the SmartMotor name.

Following a hearing last October and November, the district court for northern California ruled in favour of Animatics` claim and ordered QuickSilver to stop selling several of its servo motor products. Possible damages payments by QuickSilver will be subject of another trial.

QuickSilver is appealing against the decision and says that "due to the limited scope of the infringement" it has been able to do a simple redesign to its products so that they no longer infringe the patent.

Following the court decision, the battle between the two parties has continued on their Web sites. Animatics accuses QuickSilver of putting "misinformation" on its site and of not posting the ruling in its favour.

For its part, QuickSilver says that "of the 35 claims that Animatics originally accused us of infringing, the Court found we infringed on two of the more limited patent claims and issued an injunction against us". It says that because of its redesign, "the impact on our users will be minimal".

Following the Court decision, Robert Bigler and Punita Pandit, co-inventors of the Animatics patented technology, said they were pleased with the verdict which represented their third successful defence of the patent. "The upside of this decision is that it offers Animatics the protection necessary to make additional investments in the technology we first introduced in 1994," said Bigler.

But Animatics warned that it might seek damages from "representatives, agents and users" of the infringing products. "We regret this aspect of the lawsuit," says Bigler, "but the path of litigation was certainly not our choice. It was costly on many levels, but we must move forward now to collect for repayment of those damages."




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