Younger Optics, Essilor, Indizen and VSP Embroiled in Progressive Lens Patent Suits

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NEW YORK—A wide ranging patent battle over digital progressive lenses has broken out, with leading lens manufacturers, an optical lab group and a major managed vision care company taking sides in lawsuits and countersuits filed in two different federal courts.

On Feb. 20, Younger Optics, Indizen Optical Technologies, Indizen Optical Technologies of America, Vision Service Plan,  VSP Labs and VSP Optical Group filed suit against Essilor International and Essilor of America in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division. The companies are seeking a declaratory judgment stating that the manufacture and sale of their progressive lenses, including VSP Unity PLxpression lenses, does not infringe three Essilor International patents on digital progressive lenses, either directly or indirectly. In their suit, the companies are also seeking to invalidate all three Essilor patents because they claim the patents fail to comply with U.S. patent laws.

According to the court documents, Younger, Indizen and VSP said they filed suit against Essilor because they had “a reasonable apprehension” that Essilor International and Essilor of America will imminently file suit against them for allegedly infringing U.S. patents 6,149, 271 6,139,148 and 6,199,984. The documents said the plaintiffs’ “reasonable apprehension” derives, in part, from two letters Essilor sent to IOT, IOTA and Younger Optics on Jan. 23 accusing them of “indirect infrigement of Essilor’s patents, as well as a separate letter Essilor sent to Vision Service Plan, VSP Labs and VSP Optical on Feb. 13, accusing VSP of “direct and indirect patent infringement.”

In another suit filed on Feb. 22 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Essilor International and Essilor of America claimed that Younger Optics, Indizen and VSP are involved in producing and selling lenses that infringe upon Essilor International’s ’271 patent, include VSP Unity PLxpression. The suit states that the VSP companies are producing the lenses at VSPOne, a VSP network lab in Lewisville, Texas. According to the suit, the lenses that infringe upon the ’271 patent “start with Younger Optics’ semi-finished lenses, and then use Indizen’s lens design files to finish the unfinished side…”

Essilor is seeking a restraining order against the defendants, as well as a jury trial. It has also asked to be awarded damages and to recoup legal costs related to the trial.

No further actions have been taken in either suit at press time.