Pall to appeal initial injunction on filter patent
BY BETSY ZIOBRON
EAST HILLS, N.Y.—Pall Corp. (www.pall.com) is appealing a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, which issued an order in favor of Mykrolis Corp. (Billerica, Mass.; www.mykrolis.com) on its motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Pall Corp. from manufacturing and selling its PhotoKleen EZD-2 Filter Assembly products.
According to the April 30 court memorandum and order, "Continued sales of the EZD-2 in the U.S. will likely result in significant, irreparable loss of sales and market share to Mykrolis." The court concluded that Mykrolis is entitled to the preliminary injunction and immediately ordered Pall to cease making, using, selling, or offering to sell the PhotoKleen EZD-2 Filter Assembly in the U.S. until furthercourt order.
"We are extremely gratified by the Court's decision," commented C. William Zadel, Mykrolis chairman and CEO. "Developing innovative technologies that enable our customer's processes is the cornerstone of our strategy, and the Court's decision allows for clear protection of out intellectual property."
Pall, which is appealing the preliminary ruling and asking that the appeal be expedited, is disappointed in the court's decision but does not expect any impact on earnings from this decision. "The injunction is limited to the U.S., and two-thirds of our sales to this segment are overseas," says Pat Iannucci, Pall's vice president of communication. "The product is one of a wide array of enabling technologies we sell to the semiconductor and other industries, and it is not even the product that we are now selling."
Pall believes the injunction does not apply to its newer product technology, which they are confident does not infringe on the Mykrolis patents.
Pall's PhotoKleen EZD-2 Filter Assembly is the subject of a March 2003 lawsuit filed by Mykrolis, charging Pall with infringement of two of its U.S. patents. Mykrolis and Pall are direct competitors in the business of manufacturing and selling fluid separation and filtration systems for the semi-conductor industry.
During the manufacturing of semiconductors in a cleanroom, photoresists and solvents are dispensed onto semiconductor wafers by a specialized pump and then spin-coated into a uniform thin film. Purifying the liquid chemicals requires separation and filtration devices with filters that must be changed periodically, yet with minimal loss of fluid and without introducing contamination.
Filter change-out must be done as quickly as possible because it requires the semiconductor manufacturing process to be temporarily shut down.
In the 2003 lawsuit, Mykrolis contended that Pall's PhotoKleen EZD-2 Filter Assembly infringes on two patents (U.S. Patent No. 6,068,770 and U.S. Patent No. 6,378,907). Mykrolis' Impact 2 Manifold and Pall's PhotoKleen EZD-2 fluid separation devices both include a quick-disconnect feature that enables fast and easy filter change-out, and photographs of the two products bear striking resemblance.
The two patents are also the basis for Mykrolis' Optimizer ST and Panelgard 1-2-3 filters and manifolds, as well as its IntelliGen and RGEN dispense pumps.
While no one knows when to expect a final ruling on Mykrolis' patent infringement action, Pall remains confident that the final court ruling will be in its favor.
"The EZD-2 product at issue in the lawsuit was on the market for two years prior to notice of concern from Mykrolis," says Iannucci. "The Mykrolis patents are mechanical, and the real technology is in the filter itself."