Stage win for ams against Melexis in patent claim

May 22, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In a patent quarrel between Belgian chipmaker Melexis and its Austrian competitor ams, the latter has won a last-instance verdict: ams' patent on magnetic field position sensor technologies is valid, the European patent court ruled. Nevertheless, the dispute will continue.

In 2009, ams sued Melexis over alleged patent infringement related to the use of magnetic field sensors for automotive and industrial applications. In an evasive movement, Melexis tried to invalidate the related European patent nr. EP 0 916 074 B1 by filing a claim at the patent court against patent holder ams. This move backfired badly - the patent is valid, the court decided. Now ams plans to return to the main theatre and continue its infringement complaint. "We expect the final decision next year", a Melexis spokesperson said.

The quarrel is related to a technology field that increasingly gains significance for industrial and even more so for automotive applications. Examples where such sensors are typically used are sensing the steering wheel position or the position of gear wheels in the power train. The magnetic technology provides better long-term stability and thus is better suited for safety-related automotive applications than competing optical technologies, an ams spokesperson explained. "This dispute affects one of our more important business segments", he said, declining however to elaborate on the dimension of sales the company achieves with these products.

In one aspect, both opponents did not disagree: Today's ruling does not have any immediate effect on existing products, spokespersons from ams and Melexis explained unanimously.