Asylum Research in the dock over Veeco's patent claims

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Patent application

Veeco's patent infringement case against Asylum Research is set to
go to court after a US Court ruled that three of Veeco's atomic
force microscopy (AFM) patents were potentially being breached.

The US District Court in Los Angeles has lifted the seal on a court order that was issued on 19 March 2007 that states that Veeco has presented sufficient evidence of Asylum Research's infringement of three of its AFM patents. However, the court has ruled that Asylum is not in breach of two of two other patents and has set a trial date in March 2008. Asylum was founded by former Digital Instruments (now Veeco) employees and opened its doors in 1999 and within six months it had shipped its first product. The patents in question surround technology believed by Veeco to be used in Asylum's flagship product, the MFP-3D AFM. The proceedings were initially filed on 17 September, 2007 against Asylum alleging that the manufacture, use and sale of its MFP-3D AFM constituted "wilful infringement of five patents"​ owned by Veeco. Veeco is suing for unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction to stop the infringement. Both companies seem eager to go to court to settle the matter, with Veeco's CEO, John Peeler stating: "We are pleased that the Court rejected most of Asylum's defenses and has set the case for trial. We continue to look forward to a positive resolution of our U.S. litigation against Asylum."​ However, Asylum seem equally optimistic about their chances during the trial, saying the summary judgement that eliminated 6 of Veeco's 13 patent claims "cast a large shadow"​ over the remaining claims. Indeed, Asylum has asserted that Veeco's patents are invalid and unenforceable and has filed a counterclaim for infringement of a patent licensed by Asylum - a claim that still remains as part of the lawsuit. "Four years ago Veeco chose to pursue litigation rather than innovation. Their obvious hope was to financially starve a young competitor. That strategy has backfired and they now find themselves with a damaged portfolio and facing a possible infringement ruling for using our technology - technology that enables much faster, lower noise AFMs that will be required for Veeco to be competitive in the future,"​ said Asylum's CEO, Jason Cleveland. "While we are obviously very happy with this victory, we look forward to finishing the job at trial."

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