Both sides happy in resolution of PCF dispute

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The patent dispute between UK-based ultrafast fibre laser manufacturer Fianium and Danish firm NKT Photonics has ended, with both sides claiming a positive outcome. The dispute has raged quietly for more than a year, after NKT alleged that Fianium had infringed upon the company's intellectual property rights pertaining to the production of photonic crystal fibre (PCF), a component used alongside ultrafast lasers in broad-spectrum supercontinuum light sources. The dispute was settled outside of court following an offer by Fianium in February of this year.

The settlement comes shortly after the English Patents Court ruled that Fianium's current method of manufacturing PCF does not infringe NKT's patents (which are held under NKT's brand name of Crystal Fibre). Fianium was ordered to make nominal payments to NKT for previous violations of the patents in a small number of lasers produced with alternative PCF manufacturing techniques.

NKT has stated that Fianium has been ordered to pay the legal fees of both parties up until the point at which an offer was made by Fianium, although Fianium states that both parties will contribute to each others' costs. Fianium has agreed to avoid the use of NKT's proprietary manufacturing techniques going forward.

Anatoly Grudinin, CEO of Fianium, is pleased with the outcome: 'To a pragmatic businessman it was clear that a settlement now, which we consider was positive for Fianium on all significant matters, was the best choice - not least in that it allows us to concentrate fully on what we do best - developing advanced laser technology. Fianium respects IP, and welcomes the rational resolution of disputes, but we cannot just be dictated to. That is why we litigated for over a year, with a much larger opponent, to establish that there is no monopoly regarding the manufacture of PCF for our products.' Fianium will continue to offer supercontinuum technology based on its own PCF manufacturing techniques.

Jakob Skov, CEO of NKT Photonics, is equally happy with the result: 'We are very pleased with the outcome and we remain fully committed to protecting our intellectual property portfolio. In our view, photonic crystal fibres represent a key platform for photonics applications, such as supercontinnum systems and high power lasers. In recent years we have seen a rapid growth in the PCF based fibre and component sale demonstrating commercial success for our OEM customers,' he says.