A circuit used to track ultrasound signals is at the heart ofa patent dispute between ATL and SRI International of Palo Alto,CA. ATL, headquartered in Bothell, WA, manufactures and distributesfour ultrasound systems in the Ultramark series. At issue
A circuit used to track ultrasound signals is at the heart ofa patent dispute between ATL and SRI International of Palo Alto,CA.
ATL, headquartered in Bothell, WA, manufactures and distributesfour ultrasound systems in the Ultramark series. At issue aretracking filter circuits in the Ultramark 4 and two discontinuedproducts, the Ultramark 5 and ADR 4000. The vendor's main product,its high-end Ultramark 9 radiology scanner, does not use the disputedcircuit.
SRI filed a request for partial summary judgment on its patentinfringement claim in July 1991. Last November, a district courtruled on that motion and determined ATL had infringed SRI's patent.
ATL is pursuing an appeal through the federal circuit courtin Washington, DC.
"We believe there is prior art here, based on two priorpatents issued to other companies that have since expired,"said Anne Bugge, director of corporate and investor relationsfor ATL. "We don't believe that SRI has a valid patent orthat we have infringed."
While ATL's appeal is pending, the district courts have continuedto entertain motions relating to the summary judgment. Late lastmonth, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley A. Weigel entered aninjunction enjoining ATL from continued use of the circuit forthe remaining 10 months left on SRI's patent.
The effective date of the injunction has been stayed untilJune, however, Bugge said.
"The stay is to give ATL time to remove the disputed circuitwithout interrupting delivery to customers," she said. "We'reconfident we will be able to complete an engineering program todo that."
SRI has also asked for $5 million in damages resulting fromthe patent infringement. A jury trial is scheduled for May.
It is not known whether the appeal will be granted before thedamages trial. But ATL is already committed to appeal should anadverse decision result from the trial, she said.
"We want people to know we believe this case is withoutmerit, it has no impact on our customers, and that we are appealingthese determinations," she said.