Last year, I wrote about a Cambridge company called Ceravision which has developed a very high efficiency, high brightness lighting technology. This works by coupling microwave power very efficiently into a small capsule of gas, which reacts by turning into plasma and glowing like a good 'un. As I said at the time, the key innovation there was the coupling mechanism, which was clever and useful. It looked good. Still does.
So it was with some curiosity that I watched a video by one of my American ZDNet comrades-in-tech, Michael Kanellos. He reported on a Silicon Valley company, Luxim, that had a breakthrough technology - a very high efficiency, high brightness lighting technology that worked by coupling microwave power very efficiently into a small capsule of gas, which... oh, you've heard that before?
To the untutored eye, it looks remarkably like the two companies are doing the same thing in the same way. And curiously, neither mentions the other. That can only mean one thing...
Google soon confirms my worst fears: they're in court over patents. I did try to dig into the case to find out who did what first to whom, but when you uncover sentences like this one -
"In Luxim v Ceravision the question was the jurisdiction of the Comptroller. In particular, the issue was whether a hearing officer of the Comptroller General of the UK Intellectual Property Office was incorrect to refuse a request by one party to decline to deal with entitlement proceedings in favour of the High Court."
- you realise quite quickly that this is not an area into which fools should rush. I'm pleased to note that my very favourite IP law blog, IPKat, is keeping a beady whisker on the case, which may in a decade or two actually resolve.
Its hard to over-emphasise the importance of high-efficiency lighting; both companies doubtless have their nostrils filled with the scent of the extra-large pie to come. Assuming that nobody actually did steal anything from anybody, wouldn't the sensible thing be to stop paying lawyers and start sharing out that pie ASAP?