Well we started hearing murmurs of trouble brewing at PFO and our investigation has revealed some startling news which will affect the future of all LEDs for aquarium use. The story all began when we were informed that PFO Lighting, one of the leading innovators and manufacturers of aquarium lighting, laid off their entire staff. Why would a thriving company with innovative products such as the Solaris be forced to do such a thing? Because they are being sued by patent trolls who have nothing to do with our industry! Please read on to learn more about how this lawsuit is damaging innovation in the industry and how it could lead to a complete absence of LED technology in the aquarium hobby.
This gloomy situation all began with a patent lawsuit which was filed by the Orbital Technologies Corporation, also known as Orbitec. For some unknown reason, this primarily aerospace research and development company with over $150 Million in industry and government contracts decided to patent the use of LEDs for Marine aquariums, well after the people began to use LEDs for marine tanks and well after PFO began shipping the Solaris luminaire. Once they were awarded the really broad and obviously bogus patent, Orbitec filed a lawsuit against the most obvious aquarium LED manufacturer PFO. PFO tried to reason with the corporation, even offering to sell the lighting division to Orbitec. The suits at orbitec made it clear that they had no intention of operating in the aquarium industry and they demanded 25% royalties on all LED products sold.
With over $150 Million in contracts, what do they care about squeezing out a few grand from the aquarium industry? Well the path of least resistance is what makes a river crooked; Orbitec couldnt care any less about the industry they are disrupting and the American companies and jobs they are shuttering. As if things weren’t bad enough in this economy, the target of this lawsuit is not some far away Chinese knock off company, it’s a domestic manufacturer which uses nearly all American labor and parts.
Furthermore, the implication of this lawsuit will affect all light fixtures which use LEDs, that means Current, Aqua Illuminators, AquaFX and even all the little moonlight makers could be next on the chopping block. PFO has tried and failed to convince some of these manufacturers that this lawsuit is in the mutual interest of many parties, should Orbitec win this lawsuit, they could singlehandedly halt the production of LED fixtures in the aquarium industry for good.
The impending lawsuit scheduled for this month has already stymied aquarium lighting innovation. We know of several LED fixtures which some of these companies have ready for release but they are withholding from the market until the outcome of the Wisonsin based lawsuit. With PFO’s lawyer fees well over 6 digits and climbing, it’s clear that Orbitec and it’s army of legal suits are bleeding PFO of capital until they probably cannot fight the lawsuit anymore.