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 Cat5 cable in the context of a multi-room system.
Armour says that its Systemline brand has been using a similar method of power and audio transmission over Cat5 for its Systemline Modular system (pictured) since the outset, albeit with significant enhancements in the form of balanced line audio and a special DC-to-DC conversion circuit. This is said to guarantee greater energy efficiency and consistency of performance.
The company had argued that the LTE patent as filed lacked substance and was “an obvious solution” using standard audio integrated circuits and industry standard Cat5 cable. With out-of-court attempts to resolve the dispute ending in failure, Armour decided to seek the revocation of the UK and European patent in separate actions.
The UK High Court judgment handed down on 14 November 2008 ruled that LTE’s UK patent was invalid and must be revoked. Armour’s legal action at the European Patent Office to have the patent revoked across Europe is ongoing. The company expects this action to be concluded within the next 18 months and says that it is confident of a favourable outcome.
“I am delighted with the result and while I have been quietly confident about the outcome, it is nice to have the judgment,” said Armour’s chief executive, George Dexter. “We have always believed this to be an unnecessary dispute and have gone to great lengths over the past two or so years to negotiate with LeisureTech to avoid the expense and distraction of a full court hearing. However, these efforts failed, we ended up in court and have now won.”
Regarding the company’s future plans, an Armour Group spokesperson told II: “Armour’s brands have been expanding sales across Europe for a number of years and it is their intention to accelerate this trend. Prominent among their successful brands is Systemline Modular, their range of multi-room, home entertainment systems aimed at new-build houses and apartments. This is now sold, via distributors, to trained installers in 17 European countries. To expand this network, Armour recently conducted Systemline training seminars for European installers in Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain as well as the UK.”