As Optium prepares for its IPO, it gets hit by a patent suit

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

October 2, 2006

2 Min Read
JDSU, Emcore Sue Optium

Optium is getting a little cold water sprayed on its pre-IPO party, as Emcore Corp. (Nasdaq: EMKR) and JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) have hit the optical transceiver vendor with a patent infringement lawsuit.

The suit was filed Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. It concerns U.S. patents 6,282,003 and 6,490,071, both mellifluously titled: "Method and Apparatus for Optimizing SBS [Stimulated Brillouin Scattering] Performance in an Optical Communication System Using at Least Two Phase Modulation Tones."

In a brief court complaint, free of the hyperbole and grandstanding often found in lawsuits (darn!), Emcore and JDSU accuse Optium of violating both patents with its Prisma II 1550nm transmitters.

That Emcore and JDSU are teaming up would suggest Prisma sells primarily into the cable TV industry, as Emcore acquired JDSU's cable business in 2005. (See Emcore Buys JDSU's Cable Biz.)

The timing is interesting, given that Optium is on the verge of going public, having filed its initial S-1 form with the SEC on June 29. (See Optium Files for $100M IPO.)

Adding some intrigue to the case is the fact that several Optium executives came from JDSU. That includes CEO Eitan Gertel and senior VP of engineering Mark Colyar, both hailing from JDSU's transmission subsystems division.

Emcore and JDSU are jointly represented by the law firm of Jones Day. The lead attorney on the case did not return a call for comment.

Optium VP of marketing Tony Musto says the company has filed a response but declined to provide details about the products in question, although he did give the usual comment about the suit being without merit.

The '003 patent was granted to Uniphase Corp. on Aug. 28, 2001; Uniphase had filed for the patent in 1998, a year before its merger with JDS Fitel to form the JDSU we know and love today. The '071 patent was granted to JDSU on Dec. 3, 2002.

Optium is a notoriously quiet company. Its Web page doesn't even list products by name. But in the wake of the telecom crash, Optium managed to build a decent business out of 10-Gbit/s transceivers conforming to the 300-pin multisource agreement (MSA), the mainstream format for such devices until recently.

For its fiscal year ended July 29, Optium reported losses of $8.1 million on revenues of $69.5 million -- representing an 87.4 percent increase in revenues from the previous year. Gross margins were just 25.2 percent, though.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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