Lemelson Foundation Gives Up Patent Fight

The Lemelson Foundation has taken its submarines and gone home. On Thursday, the foundation filed documents with the U.S. District Court for Arizona stating that it would not challenge a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year that precluded the foundation from enforcing its machine vision patents.

Hundreds of companies have paid inventor Jerome Lemelson and later the foundation that survived him more than $1.5 billion in licensing fees. But in September, the Federal Circuit agreed with the trial judge that the 18- to 39-year delay in prosecuting the patents rendered them unenforceable.

Symbol Technologies v. Lemelson Medical, Education & Research Foundation, 98-1413 PHX, has been closely watched because it involves Lemelson’s use of what have been dubbed “submarine” patents because they are kept on file in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for years only to come to the surface after applicable technologies have evolved.

“The Lemelson Foundation’s decision not to appeal the Federal Circuit’s ruling is a fitting end to a 50-year journey through the legal system,” said Jesse Jenner, a Ropes & Gray partner leading the plaintiffs in the case.

— Scott Graham


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