Laser patent fight goes another round with appeal
Intellectual Property June 12, 2018 10:33 am By Cat Fredenburgh | Melbourne

Triclops Technologies has filed an appeal less than one month after the Federal Court dismissed its case alleging a rival infringed its patent for an industrial machine safety system that uses laser fields to detect hazards, but found the patent was valid.

Inventor Kevin Stephen Davies and Triclops – the exclusive licensee of the patent – filed the notice of appeal Friday in Western Australia.

Justice Neil McKerracher ruled May 25 that Lazer Safe did not infringe a patent licensed to Triclops because the patent’s claims construction was “unrealistically broad”.

But the judge also ruled the patent was not invalid, as Lazer Safe had cross claimed.

Perth-based Lazer Safe, which was founded in 1998, sells its safety systems to press brake manufacturers around the world, with its biggest market in Europe.

Triclops, also from Western Australia, and Davies sued Lazer Safe alleging infringement of a patent broadly titled “A Safety System”. The patent covers a system used with industrial machinery, in particular with press brake machines. Davies is the owner of the patent at issue; Triclops is the exclusive patent licensee.

The patent’s invention detects obstructions near hazardous areas of machines. The invention was designed to overcome problems with earlier safety systems, such as light beam detectors, the court heard.

Lazer Safe allegedly infringed on the patent through the sale in 2015 of three machine safety systems. Lazer Safe denied the allegations and argued in a cross-claim that the patent was invalid.

In dismissing the infringement claim, Judge McKerracher found that the ‘one segment stop’ system of Lazer Safe’s technology did not operate as the safety system as claimed in the patent, involving the “recognition of the presence of shadowed regions cast by obstructions in the illuminated region and determination of their boundaries”.

“There is no ‘image’ in the sense claimed, no determination of ‘boundaries’ of shadowed ‘regions’, the tool is not an ‘obstruction’ and there is no comparison with stored images by ‘recognition’,” the judge found, adding that none of the dependent claims were infringed either.

In throwing out Lazer Safe’s invalidity claims based on lack of novelty and inventive step, Judge McKerracher said none of the prior art disclosed a safety system like the patent at issue, and that previous patents, combined with common general knowledge, did not make the patent obvious.

“In my view, a hypothetical skilled person in the field would not have been directly led to the invention as claimed in the Patent based on the common general knowledge combined with the [earlier] Patent,” the judge said.

Lazer Safe’s allegations that the patent’s claim were not fairly based on the specification and suffered from lack of clarity were also dismissed.

Kevin Stephen Davies and Triclops Technologies are represented by DLA Piper. Lazer Safe is represented by Wrays.

The patent is Australian Standard Patent No. 2003229135.

The appeal is Davies v Lazer Safe Pty Ltd.

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Cat Fredenburgh

Cat Fredenburgh has been covering legal news for 12 years. She was previously Editor-in-Chief at US legal news publication Law360. She is the Co-Founder of Lawyerly.