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JDSU vies to switch off tunable competition

18 Nov 2008

The Californian optoelectronic component manufacturer is asserting its monolithic InP integration patents against other chipmakers and even its own customers.

Optical communications giant JDSU wants the US government to ban imports of tunable lasers made by its rivals Bookham and Syntune, who it says infringe its patents.

In its filing to the International Trade Commission (ITC) on 7 November, the Milpitas, California firm is also seeking a ban on imports of modules and systems that use the competing technology.

JDSU has named CyOptics, which it says integrates chips sold by Sweden’s Syntune into marketable products at its Mexican facility, in the suit.

The suit also names Nortel, Tellabs and Ciena, network equipment manufacturers that JDSU listed as customers in its most recent quarterly financial results, but which are using Bookham's tunable lasers.

Another Bookham customer, German network equipment producer Adva Optical Networking, is the final company involved in the ITC case.

The dispute hinges around two US patents, 6,658,035 and 6,687,278, that JDSU owns through the 2005 purchase of Agility Communications.

The first of these covers the manufacture of a monolithically integrated InP laser chip, containing a widely tunable laser, amplifier and curved waveguide. The second concerns the use of the monolithically integrated chips to generate constant, high-power signals across a range of wavelengths.

“I have reason to believe, based upon reasonable investigation, that Bookham manufactures tunable laser chips that infringe the '035 and '278 patents,” wrote Chris Coldren, director of corporate development at JDSU, in the complaint.

Coldren, one of the founders of Agility, goes on to cite a list of where exactly Bookham's and Syntune's lasers have been imported into the US. On the basis of this list JDSU has asked the ITC to investigate whether its patents actually have been infringed, and if so exclude such products under its import control jurisdiction.

Bookham filed suit in California in March, to counter approaches it said that JDSU had made to its customers concerning the legal status of its products.

In that case, Bookham was seeking a declaratory judgement stating that no infringement has been made. JDSU has now counterclaimed for “unspecified compensatory damages, treble damages, attorney fees and an order enjoining Bookham from future infringement of the patents in suit”, according to Bookham.

JDSU also began action against Syntune in California over tunable lasers in July. In response, Syntune asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine JDSU's patents in October.

No court dates have yet been set for any of these cases.

This article originally appeared on our sister website compoundsemiconductor.net

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