The European Patent Office has revoked the A-Bus patent owned by LeisureTech Electronics (LTE), following proceedings launched by Armour Group. The revocation, by the EPO's Opposition Division, took place at a hearing on 10 February 2010.
This revocation action comes after A-Bus's UK patent was revoked in the High Court on 14 November 2008, following a similar action brought by Armour.
Armour has been in dispute with LTE, an Australian company, for a number of years over the validity of the A-Bus patent. The dispute related to a patent owned by LTE, which specified a particular method of sending DC power and stereo audio signals down a single CAT-5 cable in the context of a multi-room system.
Armourís Systemline brand (pictured are Systemline CLS 3 speakers) has been using a similar method of power and audio transmission over Cat5 since the outset, albeit with significant enhancements in the form of balanced line audio and a special DC-to-DC conversion circuit, which guarantees greater energy efficiency and consistency of performance.
Armour has always taken the view that LTEís A-Bus patent as filed, lacked substance and was indeed an obvious solution using standard audio integrated circuits and industry standard Cat5 cable, for which nobody, in the companyís view, could claim a monopoly. These two judgements vindicate the Armour's position.
George Dexter, Armourís chief executive, commented: ìWhen we won the revocation dispute in the UK in November 2008, I stated that I was confident of the outcome at the EPO and so this confidence has been proved well founded. Nevertheless, this is a very pleasing result and further reinforces our view that the A-Bus solution was and is obvious and therefore should not be subject to patent protection. These two judgements must raise serious questions with regard to the validity of the patent in other territories where it still remains in force.
"Armour has always acted honourably and with honesty in this matter. We have made every effort to resolve this dispute through a constructive dialogue with LTE, but sadly to no avail. Consequently the matter had to be determined by the Courts, which in both cases found in our favour.î
As IE Residential reported last July, Leisuretech subsequently went into voluntary administration, and was rescued when Armour and other creditors agreed to settle for a part-payment of the the company's outstanding debts.