Big news today that the aquarium LED patent which stifled progress of reef aquarium LED lighting has been reexamined by the United State Patent & Trade Office with some major changes to what the aquarium LED patent means for aquarium LED manufacturers. Nearly three years ago we brought attention to the big trouble brewing brewing for the future of aquarium LEDs and the legal battle that contributed to the bankruptcy of PFO.
In January of 2010 we posted a plea for Reef Builders readers to send in prior art regarding the use of LEDs over aquariums and some of this material was used in the reexamination of the aquarium LED patent. Abuse of the USPTO has risen steadily over the last two decades and we know that the US patent system is inherently broken, for example this reexamination was issued a certificate on September 6th and has only now been made available. With this reexamination of the aquarium LED patent it seems like the we are finally crawling towards some kind of fairness regarding the use of this promising technology in marine and reef aquariums.
BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: before we delve into what the ex-parte reexamination means, we want to make it abundantly clear that we are not lawyers and therefore our analysis of the ex-parte reexamination of the aquarium LED patent is not legal council of any kind. The two posted pages represent merely a synopsis of the reexamination and a more complete version will be made available to the public in the future. But don’t take our word for it, If you have any questions about what the synopsis really means you should speak with a lawyer.
Now with that out of the way, from our grasp of the English-patent language there seems to be three major teeth left to this patent. Many of the original claims of the original aquarium LED patent have been thrown out and now we are left with claims 1, 2 and 15 having been “deemed patentable”.
Claim#1 pertains to the combination of a marine habitat and LED lighting with a “housing connected to the top edge of the aquarium to substantially cover the open top” and “cooling means to dissipate the heat generated by the LEDs” – what existing product does that sound like?
Claim #2 pertains to the controlling of the independent LEDs in addition to claim one. So the controlling of independent LEDs seems to be infringing only if it also coupled with an all-in-one reef aquarium with built-in cooling for the LEDs.
Claim #15 is the kicker which directly seems to describe some popular lights on the aquarium market today. This last claim pertains to the way the LED light is positioned over the aquarium and how it is cooled to dissipate the heat from the LEDs.
Once again this is just a synopsis of the patent reexamination and a a more detailed report will be issued, hopefully in less than three months. With so many LED lights available on the aquarium market it is easy to forget that there is still an LED patent that threatens American innovation in this fast growing of the aquarium LED lighting market but we assume that stake holders of the patent have just been waiting for this reexamination to be issued before they fire up their legal teams. If you are an aquarium LED light manufacturer and have any doubts about what is stated in this synopsis of the LED patent do yourself a favor, disregard everything that we have written or interpreted and call up your own legal council.