Saturday, September 13, 2014

Judge Finds L-3 Patent "Obvious"

Reuters: A federal judge has ruled in favor of Sony, overturning a jury verdict for L-3 Communications and invalidating several parts of an image sensor patent held by the defense contractor. The judge said that the jury in 2013 was wrong to find L-3's patent claims were not "obvious" and thus insufficiently unique to be patented. New York-based L-3 sued Sony in 2010 over two patents for the image sensors, which it said were originally developed for military low-light applications.

Law360: The patent in the lawsuit is:

US5541654 "Focal plane array imaging device with random access architecture" by Peter C. T. Roberts

This is a divisional patent. The original patent under the same name has been dropped earlier in the dispute:

US5452004 "Focal plane array imaging device with random access architecture" by Peter C. T. Roberts

Update: The official judge opinion on the case is published here.

2 comments:

  1. From Law360:
    "L-3’s patent added an in-pixel amplifier to prior art, known as Eto, an addition that the jury had found was not obvious. But Judge Andrews disagreed Friday, saying a person of ordinary skill in the art would clearly use an amplifier.

    “There was a clear motivation to add an in-pixel amplifier to Eto's pixel design,” Judge Andrews said. “Eto disclosed that one of the problems with his pixel was low signal to noise ratio. Eto solved this by using an image intensifier.”

    L-3 had presented evidence that a person of ordinary skill in the art would not incorporate an in-pixel amplifier into the prior art because of tradeoffs. Incorporating the amplifier would increase the complexity and nonuniformity of the invention, according to L-3. But tradeoffs are not sufficient to make the combination not obvious, the court said on Friday.

    “That there were tradeoffs does not make the combination non-obvious,” the opinion said. “I find that a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention would have been motivated to add an in-pixel amplifier to Eto's pixel design.”"

    Peter Noble disclosed an amplifier (SF) in 1968 - one of the first MOS active pixel sensors. Not sure what the Eto reference is here.

    Having gone through the excruciating IV v. Canon trial, with inexplicable decisions by both the judge and jury, I can only empathize with both parties in this process. Surely a trial by a jury of ordinary citizens is an inappropriate way to decide intellectual property infringement and invalidity matters.

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  2. If we follow this way, then all the inventions are OBVIOUS.

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