June 28, 2013—Laser processing equipment company LPKF Laser & Electronics AG (Garbsen, Germany) announced on June 27 a patent infringement suit against an unnamed Chinese mobile phone manufacturer. The legal action asserts that a “large international manufacturer” in China is using parts in their products that are manufactured using a patented laser direct structuring (LDS) process.
LDS is frequently used in mobile device manufacturing under exclusive licensing. In an ongoing dispute, a Chinese investigation board declared an LPKF patent invalid in 2012, a finding LPKF is appealing. The current suit targets companies that build devices incorporating parts manufactured illegally using the LDS process.
Ingo Bretthauer, chief executive officer of LPKF commented, "Our patent has been and continues to be valid in all other important markets worldwide, and covers the entire LDS process. Hence, we will not only take legal action against electronic producers, but also those who use the parts in their products."
According to the German Engineering Federation VDMA, patent piracy costs German engineering and equipment manufacturers €7.9 billion in 2011, a loss that corresponds to nearly 37,000 jobs.