Signet to Appeal Patent Suit Verdict, Launches Dual-Sided Replacement Lens for Kodak Unique

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SAN DIEGO—Signet Armorlite is planning to appeal last week’s federal district court ruling in which Signet was ordered to pay triple damages and attorney’s fees to Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH for violating Zeiss’ patent on a backside progressive lens, as reported by VMail.

The court also issued a permanent injunction against Signet Armorlite barring it from making or selling its Kodak Unique lens in the U.S.

A spokesperson for Signet Armorlite told VMail that the company will appeal. “Signet Armorlite will continue to handle this process through the court system. While Signet Armorlite is disappointed in the decision, this case is a long way from completion. We strongly believe the decision will be overturned on appeal as it is inconsistent with the facts and laws of the case.”

A spokesperson for Essilor, the parent company of Signet Armorlite, told VMail, “The case between Zeiss and Signet Armorlite concerning Signet’s Unique lens is ongoing and heading to a panel of experts at the appellate court level, following advice of Signet’s legal counsel. Signet has suspended production of Kodak Unique as Signet pursues that appeal and launches the new and improved Kodak Unique DS lens design.” Unlike the disputed Kodak Unique lens, which features a backside design, Kodak Unique DS features a dual-sided design.

In response to a question from VMail about the impact of the court injunction and the required removal of the Kodak Unique lenses from the market, the Signet spokesperson also said, “Signet Armorlite subsidiaries, lab partners, distributors and joint ventures located outside the U.S. can continue to manufacture and sell Kodak Unique lenses there without interruption. All Kodak Unique lenses manufactured in the U.S. and sold in the U.S. or internationally, have been discontinued and where appropriate will be converted to Kodak Unique DS.”

"At Signet, we have been developing this advancement in our lens technology for some time and are proud to have the opportunity to launch the Kodak Unique DS Lens in the United States and Canada,” stated Brad Staley, president of Signet Armorlite, Inc. “This launch allows us both to meet the recent requirements concerning the Kodak Unique Lens and to replace it with a much improved product.”

The court had decided post-trial motions in favor of Carl Zeiss Vision in its patent infringement lawsuit against Signet Armorlite, Inc. that U.S. Patent 6,089,713 has been found valid and enforceable. The ‘713 patent covers certain types of back-surface freeform progressive lenses and processes by which they are made. “The technology described in the ‘713 patent is a true breakthrough for the ophthalmic industry, and we are pleased the trial court has confirmed our belief that our patent is valid and enforceable,” said Joe Donahoe, Carl Zeiss Vision’s president – North America. “While we recognize that the legal process may not be over yet, we’re confident that this judgment will be affirmed if appealed.”

“Carl Zeiss has a hundred-year history of fueling innovation in the optical industry,” added Donohoe. “The back-surface freeform progressive technology covered by the ‘713 patent is a key enabler of the customized progressive lens revolution in the U.S, making a better progressive viewing experience possible, driving manufacturing efficiencies and reducing costs in our industry.”