LMI Technologies (LMI), a supplier of machine vision systems, announced today that it has amended and expanded its patent infringement action against Perceptron of Plymouth, Michigan and US Natural Resources (USNR) of Woodland, Washington. The action is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
In 1990 Perceptron acquired a non-exclusive license to machine vision patents now owned by LMI. Under this license Perceptron was said to be restricted to manufacturing and selling sensor systems only for the measurement of formed parts or assemblies.
Since 1990, Perceptron has allegedly extended its sensor systems business into applications that include forest products, wheel alignment, 3D scanning, mould inspection, apparel assessment and robot guidance in non-formed parts. Perceptron has done so without obtaining a further license from LMI.
In May, 2003, LMI commenced action against Perceptron for infringement of US Patent Nos. 5,362,970 and 5,734,172. Neither of those patents is included in the list of patents licensed to Perceptron.
On July 7, 2003, LMI amended its complaint to also allege infringement of four other patents that are not covered by the 1990 Perceptron license.
At the same time, LMI also amended the complaint to allege infringement of an additional patent which is among those listed in the 1990 Perceptron license. The suit alleges that Perceptron has infringed the patent in fields beyond those permitted by the license, namely those sensors and systems used other than for measuring formed parts or assemblies.
LMI’s suit claims that Perceptron was aware of the patent and that by infringing the patent in applications other than measuring formed parts or assemblies, Perceptron’s infringement has been ‘willful.’ Under US patent law, damage awards for patent infringement may be trebled if the infringement was willful.
According to a statement, damages are typically limited to activity within six years of filing suit. It is estimated that Perceptron’s sensor system sales over the past six years have been in the range of $250 million.
LMI, which designs, develops, manufactures and markets machine vision systems, is headquartered in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has manufacturing and sales facilities in the US, Sweden, The Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and France.