San Diego Patent Battle: Carl Zeiss Lawsuit Against Signet Armorlite Ends In Triple Damages

By Joseph Mandour on August 10, 2012

glasses-200x97 San Diego -After five years of contentious litigation and three separate jury verdicts, Carl Zeiss Vision International’s patent infringement lawsuit against Signet Armorlite finally ended in an award of triple damages. Filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California in San Diego, the case involved a patent (6,089,713) owned by Carl Zeiss which covers “spectacle lens with spherical front side and multifocal back side and process for production”. Most notably, the Judge tripled the damages after he determined that Signet had been infringing on Zeiss’ patent for six years and that the infringement continued even after Signet knew that the infringement was willful.

The battle between Carl Zeiss and Signet Armorlite started in 2007 when Zeiss claimed that its San Diego, California based competitor was copying its patent without authorization. In its court documents, Zeiss claimed that the Signet products, including the Kodak Unique line of products, copied its patented technology. Signet fired back, seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe upon the Zeiss patent, as well as a declaration that the patent was invalid and unenforceable. Additionally, Signet went a few steps further by claiming that its German rival was causing “unfair competition, interference with contractual relationships, interference with prospective advantage and antitrust violations.”

The verdict, handed down by Judge Dana M. Sabraw, awarded triple damages to Zeiss and granted a permanent injunction for removal of all infringing Signet products from retail shelves. Judge Sabraw affirmed the verdict that Signet had willfully infringed upon a spherical optical lens patent held by Zeiss, after it was discovered that numerous employees had warned the company that infringement issues existed. The court determined that a reasonable person in the same position “would have considered there to be a high likelihood of infringement of a valid patent”. Damages were increased from $684,964 to $2.05 million, and attorney’s fees were granted, after Judge Sabraw noted that public interest in patent protection was paramount to competition between products offered in the marketplace.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement