By Thomas Baugh
The Eastern District of Texas United States Federal Court was the scene of a Markman hearing before Judge T. John Ward on Tuesday, April 19th.
In this hearing, Rembrandt Vision Technologies claims that Johnson &Johnson's Vistakon contact lens division has infringed their patent on the treatment of silicon hydrogel contact lenses.
The patent in contention (U.S. Patent No. 5,712,327) is labeled "Soft Gas Permeable Lens Having Improved Performance" by inventors Drs. Mike and Mei Chang.
At this hearing, the crux of the argument was clarified for the trial scheduled to take place in 2012. The trial centers on a chemical called 'HAM' an acronym for Hydroxy Acrylic Monomer and how it changes soft lenses.
The addition of HAM is the crucial step to creation of today's wettable lens surfaces on silicon hydrogel lenses, yielding a wet and comfortable lens. Vistakon takes the view that the patent covers only the surface treatment of lenses with HAM, not in their trade secret method which incorporates HAM in another way.
The Danish firm ChemPilots has been said to have created this proprietary method for incorporation of HAM in the lenses.
In prior patent lawsuits over the same patent infringement issues, Rembrandt Technologies has prevailed separately over both Bausch & Lomb and Ciba Vision and were awarded to date a total of settlements exceeding $50 million dollars.
Tom Baugh is an optometrist in Denison, Texas, and writer for Global Contact Magazine covering contact lens and related vision care developments.