Patent infringement

Three National Instruments patents have been infringed by MA-based The MathWorks, with the result that the company will be restricted from selling Simulink and related products.

Three National Instruments patents assigned to company founders James Truchard and Jeff Kodosky have been infringed by MA-based The MathWorks, according to a US Court of Appeals.

The patents, 4,901,221, 4,914,568 and 5,301,336, relate to National Instruments LabVIEW software. A fourth patent, 5,291,587, was found valid but not infringed.

In June 2003, the Honorable T. John Ward of the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall Division) upheld a jury’s January 2003 verdict finding validity and infringement of National Instruments’ patents and issued an order forbidding the sale of The MathWorks Simulink software product once the appeal had been ‘disposed of’ in favour of National Instruments, which it now has.

The result of the decision means that The MathWorks will be restricted from selling Simulink and related products (some add-ons/toolkits) that were found to infringe the patents. The MathWorks has publicly said that it intends to abide by the court decision.

Now, it will be up to the company to come out with a version of Simulink that does not infringe National Instruments patents.

National Instruments will continue to offer the LabVIEW Simulation Interface Toolkit, which adds the LabVIEW user interface to the Simulink environment. With the LabVIEW Simulation Interface Toolkit, design engineers can use LabVIEW-based user interfaces to intuitively control and view data within their control models. The toolkit gives The MathWorks customers a licensed manner to control and view Simulink data under these National Instruments patents.

National Instruments anticipates using a significant portion of final royalty damages from the law suit to fund academic research and classroom projects for improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.