Michael D. Wheeler
In a series of legal moves, Corning Inc. has appealed to the US International Trade Commission to bar US imports from a European optical fiber manufacturer based on an alleged patent infringement, while settling a similar, but unrelated, patent dispute in the US and Canada.
Corning said it was seeking an exclusion order against optical fiber imported from Plasma Optical Fiber, a unit of Draka Holding NV based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The complaint charged the Dutch company with violating a patent that relates to a process for applying a protective coating to optical fiber. The process reduces the number of bubbles trapped in the cured coating, improving signal performance in the optical fiber.
The company also named Chromatic Technologies Inc., based in Franklin, Mass., for using the Dutch company's optical cable in its cable communications technology.
A source from the US International Trade Commission said the organization determines whether to institute an investigation after receiving complaints such as Corning's. An administrative law judge then holds a nonjury trial and renders a verdict on the validity of the complaint. That verdict is then passed back to the commission, which makes a recommendation. If a violation is determined, the commission requests that the US Customs Service seize illegal imports.
In related news, Corning recently settled a patent dispute it filed in January against FiberCore Inc., which has manufacturing facilities in Jena, Germany, and Charlton, Mass. Under terms of the settlement, FiberCore said it had offered for sale and supplied limited quantities of optical fiber covered by a Corning patent in Canada and the US. It also acknowledged the validity of the Corning patent and agreed not to violate it. In return, Corning dismissed the litigation and agreed not to seek damages because of the limited quantities of fiber in question.