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Battle of the Fibre Optic Patents as Emtelle Take Hexatronic to Court UPDATE

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 (12:33 pm) - Score 1,152
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Competition over fibre isn’t just a matter for broadband ISPs. Scotland-based Emtelle, which is a global manufacturer of blown fibre and ducted network solutions for the industry, has today launched patent infringement proceedings in the UK High Court against Hexatronic over their competing air blown fibre products.

The situation could arguably be said to have begun in April 2016 after Emtelle was granted a European Patent EP1600801 by the EPO to “cable assembly with optical fibres for blowing installation,” which was strongly opposed by rival Hexatronic (they have their own blown fibre solutions – Ribbonet air blown fibre, ABF Ultra and Stingray etc.).

Fast forward two years and the EPO recently ruled that Emtelle’s patent should be maintained. At the time a spokesperson for Emtelle said, “With the European Patents EP1600801 and EP3073305, Emtelle’s family of patents serve to fully protect its blown fibre products across Europe” (these patents cover their FIBREFLOW® Blown Fibre units with 2-12 fibres and their new range of FIBREFLOW® solutions).

Naturally Emtelle has now moved their fight on to home turf by claiming that Hexatronic’s air blown fibre products infringe their UK patents – GB2409908 and GB2409909 – covering signal transmitting cable.

Emtelle’s Primary Claims and Demands

1. An injunction to restrain Hexatronic from infringing the Patents.

2. An order that all infringing products which are in the possession, custody or control of Hexatronic be delivered to Emtelle or, at Emtelle’s option, that such infringing products be destroyed at the expense of Hexatronic.

3. An inquiry as to damages for the infringement of the Patents, alternatively, at Emtelle’s option, an account of profits.

4. Payment of all sums found due upon taking such inquiry or account together with interest.

5. An order that, at Hexatronic’s expense, appropriate measures are taken for the dissemination and publication of any judgement or order made in the case.

It’s conceivable that the case could disrupt cable supplies to certain broadband ISPs and network builders, although that will ultimately be for the court to decide.

UPDATE 13th June 2018

Hexatronic has kindly highlighted their response to us.

Henrik Larsson Lyon, CEO Hexatronic Group, said:

“Hexatronic has today 12 June 2018 learned of a press release related to patent infringement issued by Emtelle UK Limited. According to the press release, the subject companies of the lawsuit are Hexatronic UK Ltd., Hexatronic Cable & Interconnect Systems AB, and Hexatronic AB. The lawsuit is said to relate to air-blown fiber products of which Ribbonet ABF Ultra and Stingray are named. The company deems the possibilities of defending the company’s position in the anticipated matter as very good and will contest any potential claims.

Previously, Hexatronic has on two occasions been subject to lawsuits from Emtelle related to air-blown fiber products.

Hexatronic was during spring 2015 subject to a lawsuit from Emtelle Ltd. related to an alleged infringement of a Swedish patent related to air-blown fiber products. Negotiations in the Swedish Patent and Market Court were held in early September 2017 in which the court decided in Hexatronic’s favor. The court declared the patent invalid and thereby struck down Emtelle’s claim of patent infringement.

Hexatronic’s subsidiary Hexatronic New Zealand Ltd. was in July 2016 subject to a lawsuit regarding a New Zealand patent related to air-blown fiber. Hexatronic has contested the claim.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Martin Streat

    How can you patent blowing stuff down a tube. Come on boys, please note it’s the mega rich lawyers that always get your hard earned cash!

    • Mike

      By giving certain people in government enough money to set up a system which grants you a monopoly/tyranny over others in certain fields of commerce.

  2. A_Builder

    Yup, but even if the patent is upheld the one has to license the tech to the other at a not obscene price.

    The issue is not so much UK law but US antitrust. So if it disrupts so much as one export deal to the US then the sueball can potentially be thrown back in US courts. The US system does not like the creation of virtual monopolies. Thus Apple and Samsung cross licence stuff all the time even whilst the greatest of sueballs are thrown around.

    So I would be amazed if anything actually got disrupted because if the thing was overturned on appeal then huge counter damages would be due.

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