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Scanner's VisionFlex 3D scanning system
Patent infringement over manufacturing techniques

A company called Scanner Technologies this week announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against NVIDIA. According to the press release, Scanner Technology claims that NVIDIA willingly sold products based on a 3D ball-grid array (BGA) inspection system that allows for more reliable products. The system also allows better manufacturing efficiency.

Scanner Technologies is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against NVIDIA, and hopes that it can get back legal and court fees as well. It is also seeking an undisclosed amount of damages from NVIDIA's product sales. According to Scanner Technologies:

The complaint alleges that nVidia has sold and/or is presently selling throughout the United States infringing BGA devices that are covered by one or more claims of the Scanner Patents. The complaint also alleges that nVidia has induced others to infringe. These BGA devices are a component in graphics cards, motherboards, computers, video game consoles, cell phones and handheld devices that are sold in the United States.

So far, NVIDIA has not responded to the suit. However, president and CEO of Scanner Technologies Elwin Beaty said "Scanner has been developing, manufacturing and selling vision equipment for the semiconductor industry since 1990. We believe that it is critical to protect our patented innovations, and accordingly took these actions today." The premise for the case is that NVIDIA developed its products using a similar technology to Scanner.

Sales for Scanner Technologies' products were up. The company ended June 30, 2006 with $1.57 million in sales compared to $955,000 for the same time last year.

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By webmeister on 10/2/2006 5:02:14 PM , Rating: 2
I work for a small company that designs and sells board-level products. Scanner Technologies has threatened us with legal action simply for using bga devices on our boards!

Please note: we don't manufacture bga devices, nor do we have any means for discovering what processes and equipment were used to manufacture the bga parts we buy.

Elwin Beatty of Scanner Technologies informed us that:
(1) Scanner has determined that the majority of bga parts on the planet are made using equipment that infringes their patents, and
(2) any bga devices made on infringing equipment are tainted and thus also infringe, and
(3) my company uses bga devices, and so
(4) there is a high statistical probability that my company is guilty of infringement. We were told that the burden of proof of our innocence rested entirely on our shoulders and, absent such proof, we could expect serious legal action very soon unless we quickly agree to license the use of Scanner's patents and pony up our first annual license fee.

Scanner may have a legitimate gripe against companies that make competing bga manufacturing systems. IMHO it's a stretch to extend this animosity to the users of bga manufacturers who use those competing systems to manufacture bga's, and nothing short of extortion to threaten bga device users!

For the sake of Mr. Elwin Beatty's spiritual well-being, I hope that he outgrew this sort of schoolyard bully behavior when he became an adult and is only serving as an unwilling frontman for other, less civilized business associates.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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