Patent Case Has Heads Swiveling

PVA’s shot across the bow of the conformal coating industry is sure to raise the hackles of some of the equipment manufacturers, but it’s hard to see that they have much choice but to go along.

To recap: In October 2000 and September 2002, respectively, the US PTO issued PVA a pair of patents 6,132,809 (the ‘809 patent) and 6,447,847 (the ‘847 patent). The ’809 patent covers the utilization of multiple nozzles on a conformal coating applicator. In short, this would cover any robotic conformal coater with more than one application head. The ‘847 patent covers the rotation around at least a single axis. In other words, if the head rotates, it is covered by the ‘847 patent.

I’m no patent attorney, but those patents appear very broad to my untrained eye. But I do know that an issued patent is a valid patent. PVA is in a strong position here.

This week, PVA issued a cease-and-desist letter to Specialty Coating Systems , citing 33 potential infractions of the two patents. Other than a press release informing the same, the two sides are, as far as I can tell, now letting their lawyers to the talking.

But for those who follow the conformal coating industry, allegations of infringement shouldn’t stop with SCS. The use of a rotating application head is hardly unique among conformal coating equipment. PVA’s complaint may start with SCS, but I would almost guarantee it won’t end there. Readers should talk to their conformal coating equipment suppliers about what this might mean for them.