iRobot's Lawsuit Against Robotic FX for Patent InfringementRobotic FX is being accused of patent infringement for their Negotiator military robot. Jameel Ahed, founder of Robotic FX, is a former employee of iRobot and his Negotiator has many similarities to the previously released iRobot's PackBot robot.
- I spent part of last weekend at the Sandwich (NH) Fair and let me tell you, the rides there are not as dizzying as the iRobot-Robotic FX case (or, really, cases).
- A key ruling in the case—on iRobot's request for a preliminary injunction against Robotic FX—might come in the next day or two.
- iRobot filed two lawsuits on August 17, both concerning its “PackBot” military robot.
- iRobot could have sued in Illinois, where Robotic FX is based, but often attorneys try not to sue people on their home turf, so to speak.
- Instead, iRobot chose Alabama in part because it is home to the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal, where Robotic FX and iRobot both recently took part in trials to determine who was eligible for a military contract that Robotic FX ultimately won.
- One is whether or not to fulfill iRobot's request for a preliminary injunction that would, among other things, prevent Robotic FX from selling its “Negotiator” robot
- It is apparently coated with Teflon and used to weld segments of a robot's tracks together. IRobot used and probably still uses such a device. An item at least very similar to the one iRobot employed was found in the dumpster. Ahed admits throwing it away, but says it is not something he copied from iRobot.
- The judge has four main factors to consider when deciding whether or not to issue the preliminary injunction: the likelihood of the success of iRobot's case on the merits of its main trade secret claim, the balance of hardships to the various parties, whether iRobot will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is not issued, and the public interest.
- To counter that, iRobot put PackBot program manager Tom Frost on the stand to testify that the company could deliver its own robots right away, so that there would be no delay in the arrival of robotic technology in the theatre.
- Frost also testified about the irreparable harm iRobot could suffer from losing this contract, which it claims Robot FX only won by using its stolen designs.
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