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The Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray Disc player could be halted by Rothschild  (Source: Sony Electronics)
Columbia University Professor Emerita claims electronics manufacturers infringe upon her patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last week decided to investigate certain products that contain short-wavelength light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Such may include hand-held mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, high-definition optical players and data storage devices.

Of note, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, which use blue-violet laser technology, are subjected to this investigation. Companies named in the investigation include Toshiba, Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Lite-On, Matsushita (Panasonic) and LG.

Mobile phone manufacturers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola were also identified as one of the respondents in the investigation.

According to the filing, the investigation is based on a complaint filed in February by Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, alleging that the importation into the U.S. of certain products infringe a patent owned by Rothschild.

Gertrude Neumark Rothschild is a Professor Emerita and Special Research Scientist at Columbia University, from where she also received her Ph.D in chemistry in 1949. Rothschild is no stranger to the patent courts, as in 2006 she reached a settlement with Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd. for infringement upon her LED patents.

Rothschild requests that the ITC issue exclusion orders and cease and desist orders. The case will be referred to ITC administrative law judge Paul J. Luckern, who will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of patent.

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RE: Problem
By kkwst2 on 3/26/2008 10:13:54 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, I would bet that it's not as much as you think. Certainly a lot less than most of the execs at the companies she's suing.

The devil, of course, is in the details. If they really took her ideas without licensing them, then she should be compensated. If, as is often the case, they're sort of obvious evolutions in the technology and she just happened to be first in line at the patent office, then she doesn't deserve it.

Unfortunately, the people in charge of making those distinctions are often not qualified to do so.

RE: Problem
By othercents on 3/27/2008 12:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
You would have to be certain that the person who developed the product didn't use her patent, didn't use another product that used her patent, and didn't use an idea that came from a different product design that used her patent. The only way to be certain is if the person designing the product never grew up near any technology and came to the design by pure luck.


RE: Problem
By ElFenix on 3/27/2008 1:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
coming up with the idea independently is not a defense to patent infringement.

RE: Problem
By HighWing on 3/27/2008 6:20:37 PM , Rating: 3
coming up with the idea independently is not a defense to patent infringement.

While I agree with you, at the same time I have to wonder if the fact that just because you came up with it first really should entitle you to hold absolute authority over who uses anything with that design? Basically what I'm getting at is that I think at some point if you/company never really planed to USE or implement the patent, or after X amount of years you never do, you should not be allowed to halt or stop all use of it. Instead you should only be allowed to sue for just compensation. Because the reality is in many cases (I did not say all) these companies never knew the patent they are infringing on existed. And with the turn around time for a patent (5+ years) I bet some of these companies even put in for similar patents and have yet to receive the rejection notice. So they would have no way of knowing that they were not the first. Especailly since it is rather cost prohibitive to conduct an extensive research of all current patents. Meanwhile, doing that research will thus alert other companies to your idea. And lets face it, if we forced a mandatory wait on all products till it receives it's own patent or a patent check passes, all our technology would be 5 years or more behind the rest of the world.

So again I go back to what I said. I really feel that there should be some change in patent law to reflect the use of said patent. Sure I would be upset if I held a patent that x years later someone else steals in a product. But the other side of it is that in the business world, if X years ago I had an idea for a store that would fill a niche in my market, but I never acted on it. I couldn't stop a store from opening up tomorrow with that same idea just because I thought of doing it first. So why are patent holders allowed to do just that?

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