Ultraviolet (UV) lighting, hailed for its germicidal properties, is at the center of a heated legal dispute involving prominent UV lighting companies and Dr. S. Edward Neister, backed by High Energy Ozone LLC d/b/a Far-UV Sterilray. As these entities battle over patent rights, the key question emerges: Who truly holds the rightful claim to certain UV technologies?
1. The Main Players
- Dr. S. Edward Neister & High Energy Ozone LLC d/b/a Far-UV Sterilray: These entities jointly defend the legitimacy of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,975,605 and 9,700,642, which revolve around methods of UV sterilization.
- Quartet of UV Lighting Companies: Eden Park Illumination, Inc., Larson Electronics LLC, Far UV Technologies, Inc., and Ushio America, Inc. challenge the validity of the patents held by Neister.
2. Crux of the Dispute
The heart of the disagreement lies in the legitimacy of Neister’s patent claims, especially as they pertain to a process for destroying DNA or RNA of a microorganism on a substance or surface. The UV companies argue that Neister’s submitted evidence – a report, a single lab notebook page, and undated photos – does not convincingly corroborate his claims, deeming the patents erroneous.
3. Historical Precedence and UV Technology
Expert opinions play a pivotal role in this legal tussle:
- Oliver R. Lawal, UV lighting expert and the CEO of AquiSense Technologies, Inc., has categorically stated that germicidal ultraviolet sterilization is not a new concept. He points out that UV disinfection literature dates back to as early as 1930.
- Jacob R. Munford, an information specialist, supports Lawal’s claim by furnishing professional literature from the past, which further muddies the waters on the patents’ originality.
4. The Legal Front
The proceedings have sprawled into multiple legal avenues:
- Lawyers from Fish & Richardson P.C. argue for the UV companies, asserting that Neister’s patents should be invalidated.
- King & Spaulding LLP represents Dr. Neister and Far-UV Sterilray, defending the patents’ legitimacy.
- Separate to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (P.T.A.B) proceedings, there’s a parallel litigation at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Here, Larson advised Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn about the ongoing patent reviews. To prevent conflicting judgments, Judge Lynn has chosen to halt the Texas case temporarily.
5. Recent Developments
On September 19, 2023, a three-judge panel from the P.T.A.B. released a pivotal decision, suggesting that some of Neister’s claims under U.S. Patent No. 11,246,951 might be invalidated. If this happens, it will mark a significant setback for Neister and Far-UV Sterilray.
The fate of Neister’s patents hangs in balance, as both the P.T.A.B. and the U.S. District Court continue to dissect and evaluate the presented evidences and expert testimonies. As the UV technology sector keenly watches, this legal duel underscores the complexities surrounding patent rights and technological innovations. Whichever way the pendulum swings, it’s bound to have ripple effects on the UV industry.