Raytek Loses Patent Lawsuit – Must Pay at least $8 Million
By JENNIFER PITTMAN
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Raytek Corp. of Santa Cruz has infringed on two patents related to a laser sighting system for use on infrared thermometers, a federal jury has ruled, and must pay $8 million in damages to Omega Engineering of Stamford, Conn.
The U.S. District Court jury in Bridgeport, Conn., also said in a decision announced Monday that Raytek, a subsidiary of Danaher Corp. that makes infrared temperature measurement devices, acted “willfully” or with knowledge that it was infringing on five different patent claims. According to Omega, that opens the door for substantially higher damages and attorneys’ fees.
“This was a hugely embarrassing and conclusively a defeat for Raytek,” said Richard C. Seltzer, a New York City-based attorney with Kaye Scholer LLP who represented Omega in the case.
Lawyer Joel Freed, who represented Raytek and Danaher in the case, referred calls to a Danaher company spokesman who was unavailable. A second Danaher spokeswoman did not return phone calls.
The case was filed in 1998. Raytek was sold to Fluke Corp., an Everett, Wash.-based, wholly owned subsidiary of Danaher, in 2003. Former Raytek president Cliff Warren retired in 2003 after 19 years with the company.
“I think what the most stunning development of the trial was when (Warren) testified to all of the elements for willful infringement,” Seltzer said. “He testified that he not only knew about our patent but had read the claims in the patent and was aware that an expert examiner in the patent office had already overruled Raytek’s major defense.
“He told the jury that even after knowing all that, his company continued to make and sell” the products in question.
” I think it convinced the jury that they should rule against Raytek.”
The judge in the 5-year-old case was expected to sign an order immediately barring Raytek from further manufacture or sale of its infrared thermometers with laser circle sighting.
The devices in question account for about 15 percent of Raytek’s annual sales and have produced revenues of more than $40 million for Raytek since 1998, according to documents presented in court, Seltzer said.
Omega, the second largest seller of such devices, will be No. 1 once the injunction is signed.
U.S. District Judge Janet Hall, who presided in the two-week jury trial, has asked for briefs on the issue of damages.
Privately held Omega was founded in 1962 by Betty Ruth Hollander, its president. It employs about 500 people.
Seltzer said Raytek also was found to have committed “almost identical” patent infringement by a German court and in 2003 was fined 250,000 euros and ordered to stop selling the devices in that country.
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