News Briefs

Patent lawsuit

Furukawa Electric North America and its wholly owned subsidiary OFS Fitel LLC (Norcross, GA) are suing Yangtze Optical Fibre and Cable Company Ltd., alleging that the China-based company infringes at least four U.S. patents related to single-mode and multi-mode optical fiber and processes for making optical fiber.

OFS, formerly the U.S. optical fiber business of Lucent Technologies purchased by Furukawa in 2001, was an early pioneer in a broad range of optical fiber design, manufacturing processes, and systems-related products for telecommunications technologies.

In a complaint filed on June 10, 2005 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Yangtze is accused of offering, distributing, selling, and importing optical fiber that infringes several U.S. patents and is seeking unspecified monetary damages from Yangtze, plus a permanent injunction barring the importation and sale of Yangtze’s core suite of optical fiber based products. The OFS intellectual property portfolio includes several hundred issued U.S. patents, many assigned from the Lucent patent portfolio as part of the 2001 purchase and more that are the result of OFS R&D efforts since 2001.

Distribution pact

CVI Technical Optics (Onchan, Isle of Man) signed an exclusive distribution agreement with BFI Optilas covering the distribution of CVI’s products in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands

Canadian photonics

The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and Carleton University officially opened the NRC Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (NRC-CPFC) in Ottawa, Canada. The $43 million facility is a partnership between NRC and Carleton University to support growth of the photonics sector. It offers companies, universities, and other institutions access to fabrication services to develop leading edge photonic devices.

The Canadian government and the Province of Ontario contributed $30 million and $13 million, respectively, to the capital cost of the building and leading edge equipment. NRC will assume the operating costs of the new facility. The center is located at the NRC laboratories in Ottawa to take advantage of the Council’s extensive research expertise, facilities and networks.

Solar cells

Konarka Technologies (Lowell, MA) and Solaris Nanosciences (Providence, RI) have entered a joint development agreement to evaluate the performance and efficiency of solar cells made with Konarka’s light-activated power plastic and Solaris’ metal structures. Solaris’ nanoscale metallic structures will serve as an additive to Konarka’s light sensitizing materials. The structures act as “nano-antennas” for light-sensitive molecules. Since the structure is much smaller than the wavelength of light, it concentrates, absorbs and potentially transfers the light more efficiently, resulting in enhanced energy conversion efficiencies.

Joint venture

The fiberoptics unit of Schott AG (Mainz, Germany) and Zett Optics GmbH (Braunschweig, Germany) announced a joint venture to develop fiberoptic light sources and light source modules for a variety of applications. Schott will be responsible for flexible fiberoptic light guiding and application, and Zett will be responsible for selecting a light source to integrate into the fibers. Work will be performed at Zett Optics, a developer of light, LED and medical technology and plastic optics. The resulting products will marketed under the Schott brand name. Schott’s fiberoptics business unit makes products such as fibers for the illumination of operating microscopes and endoscopes, flexible coherent fiberoptics and light guides, fiberoptic tapers, and fiberoptic faceplates for image transfer in medical x-ray machines, light-guiding fiberoptic rods and tapers, and laser beam guide systems.

Projection displays

Unaxis Optics (Balzers, Liechtenstein) entered into a licensing agreement with a major Taiwanese optical manufacturing company for the exploitation of its patented ColorWheel technology for digital light processing (DLP)-based projection display applications. The global licensing agreement covers patents owned by Unaxis Optics related to ColorWheels and their use in color sequential projectors. The non-exclusive agreement covers Unaxis-owned US patent #6,024,453 and #5,868,482 and corresponding patents in other European and Asian countries either already granted or still pending. ColorWheels are used for all types of sequential color management in multimedia projection systems including DLP technology.

OLED venture

Cambridge Display Technology (CDT; Cambridge, England) and Sumitomo Chemical signed a memorandum of understanding to form a new joint venture company to develop and supply advanced polymer OLED (P-OLED) materials and formulated inks for use in commercial P-OLED display and lighting applications. The new company, to be based in Tokyo, Japan, will be owned equally by the two parent companies. The parent companies will channel their existing P-OLED materials research and development activities into the new JV company, which will have access to the P-OLED material IP of the parent companies. Sumitomo has recently completed the acquisition of the Lumation business from The Dow Chemical Company and will make available, on an exclusive basis, the polyfluorenes technology and IP of the Lumation business to the joint venture. P-OLED materials manufacture will ultimately be based in Japan. Sumitomo and CDT have been working together since 2003 on the dendrimer class of materials.

New CEO

Paul Minton has been named CEO of California Eastern Laboratories (Santa Clara, CA), a supplier of NEC RF and wireless semiconductors, fiberoptic communications components, optocouplers, and solid state relays. Minton has been at CEL for nearly 10 years. He held the post of Executive Vice President until his promotion to president in 2004. He has also served for a number of years on the company’s Board of Directors. Minton takes over the CEO position formerly held by Jerry Arden, who will remain active as chairman of the board of directors.

Another acquisition

Multi-Fineline Electronix (Anaheim, CA), a provider of flexible printed circuit and component assembly solutions to the electronics industry, entered into an agreement with Applied Image Group and its subsidiary, Applied Optics, to purchase for $6.3 million in cash substantially all of the assets of Applied Optics, which designs and manufactures optical and photonic imaging solutions. M-Flex plans to operate the business as a wholly-owned subsidiary under the name Aurora Optical. M-Flex also expects to hire the employees of Applied Optics and to continue to manage the business in a 45,000 square-foot facility in Tucson, Arizona, where Applied Optics had been operating prior to the acquisition. According to Philip Harding, M-Flex’s chairman and CEO, the purchased assets of Applied Optics include intellectual property comprised of patents and expertise related to the engineering, prototyping, and manufacturing of optical components and photonic modules, such as those used in cell phones.

New management

Sabeus Photonics (Calabasas, CA), a developer of fiber optic components and subsystems for telecommunications, acoustic sensing, and surveillance, appointed Mark Demos to the position of general manager, Sabeus Optical Components, and Michael Hochmeister to the position of vice president, operations. The company said it is strengthening its management team and expanding production at its facility in Freeport, PA, to meet the growth in demand for its products in the US and abroad. The management appointments follow the doubling of Sabeus’ production personnel in Pennsylvania this year.

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