Solaia ‘318 Patent subdued

April 26, 2005
 By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief


s predicted in the April issue of CONTROL (“Patent Infringement Case Remains a Tangled Web,”), the verdicts are in. There were two decisions. The first denied Solaia's motion for a summary judgement against ArvinMeritor and Rockwell Automation for patent infringement on the '318 patent. The second decision granted ArvinMeritor and Rockwell summary judgement that they did NOT infringe on the '318 patent.

So, after collecting over 30 license fees, and advertising an agreement with GE Fanuc apparently designed to spread FUD in advance of the court’s rulings, Solaia appears to have lost. It is unknown at this time if they will appeal, or if they will continue to sue Rockwell's customers, or if they will now fold up their post office box office and steal quietly away.

Solaia’s entire strategy was to avoid this decision at all cost, while continuing to amass license fees, since once Rockwell got standing in court, it was clear that the patent would lose. See Managing Editor Steve Kuehn's article for all the gory details.

This is hopefully a setback for the "patent trolls." The strategy of suing for infringement of a dubious patent, and then offering to go away if a certain amount of money is paid (usually significantly less than the cost of defending the suit) is NOT extortion ... because all the lawyers say it isn't.

It is not clear at this time whether the licensees of the patent will go back to Solaia to try to retrieve their fees, or if everybody hopes the issue will just quietly go away.