Court Upholds Validity of Vicor's Reset Patent 36,098

May 31, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

Vicor Corp. (Andover, MA) and its wholly owned subsidiary VLT Inc., announced that a jury in Federal District Court (Boston, MA) handed down a verdict in which it upheld the validity of Vicor’s reset patent 36,098. In the suit brought by Vicor against Unitrode Corp. (Merrimack, NH), a subsidiary of Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX), Vicor alleged that Unitrode induced infringement of the reset patent by Artesyn Technologies Inc. (Boca Raton, FL), Lucent Technologies Inc. (Murray Hill, NJ), Magnetek Inc. (Nashville, TN) and Siemens AG (Germany), in order to sell Unitrode ICs into infringing power supplies made by those companies. In its defense, Unitrode sought to have the patent declared invalid on the basis of a number of allegations, including anticipation, indefiniteness, failure to show best mode and obviousness.

The US Patent and Trademark Office had reaffirmed the reset patent in February 1999, as a reissue of US patent 4,441,146. The reset patent relates to power conversion technology and enables the design of power converters that are said to be smaller and more energy-efficient that conventional power supplies.

In summary judgment earlier this year, the court found that Unitrode and its four customers had directly infringed the reset patent by manufacturing power converters that incorporated Vicor’s technology and Unitrode’s ICs. In its verdict, at the conclusion of a two-week trial, the jury found that the reset patent was valid, without finding active inducement by Unitrode of the four customers. Given the validity verdict, Vicor will now pursue its infringement claims and associated damages directly against infringers, including the four Unitrode customers.

“With the validity of the reset patent upheld in Federal District Court, Vicor is one step closer to collecting damages from these and other infringers,” said Jay M. Prager, senior vice president of technology and intellectual property at Vicor. “We estimate cumulative sales of infringing power supplies to be well in excess of $1.0 billion. We have given interested parties and infringers the opportunity to take a license. While many companies have signed up, others have been playing a game of ‘catch me if you can’. Vicor has made substantial investments in its technology and will enforce its patent rights.”

Recently added defendants include Power-One Inc. (Camarillo, CA) and Tyco International Ltd. (Bermuda).