Zeiss and Essilor Sign License Agreements on Backside Progressives, Other Technologies

SAN DIEGO— Carl Zeiss Vision and Essilor announced separately on Monday that they have reached an agreement relating to Carl Zeiss Vision’s back-surface free-form progressive lens technology, which includes settling the patent infringement litigation between Carl Zeiss Vision and Signet Armorlite, an Essilor affiliate.

Under the terms of the agreement, Carl Zeiss Vision International has granted a royalty bearing license under U.S. Patent No. 6,089,713 and its foreign counterparts to Essilor and its affiliates, including Signet Armorlite, and Essilor has granted a license to Carl Zeiss Vision for certain other ophthalmic technologies, including coatings.

According to an Essilor spokesperson, the Zeiss’ license for its ’713 patent extends to Shamir, the Israel-based lens manufacturer of which it owns a 50 percent share. The agreement allows all Essilor customers buying full backside lenses from Essilor or its worldwide affiliates the assurance that the products do not infringe Zeiss' mentioned patents. It covers all Essilor customers including partner labs and independent distributors who have made or who will make lenses using designs from Essilor or its affiliates, including but not limited to Signet Armorlite and Shamir, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson declined to specify which ophthalmic technologies and coating are covered by the agreement, but noted that the agreement gives Zeiss the options to license other Essilor patents in the future.

The Essilor spokesperson also said that, effective with the agreement, the injunction against Signet Armorlite’s Kodak Unique progressive lens is lifted. Essilor is beginning to resupply labs that had pulled the product from their shelves in compliance with the injunction, which was issued last month by a federal district court in conjunction with a ruling in Zeiss’ favor regarding the ’713 patent, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson noted that Essilor is halting all legal proceedings against Carl Zeiss Vision regarding Essilor’s infringement on Zeiss ’713 patent, including a planned appeal of the court’s ruling. Signet Armorlite is continuing to distribute its new Kodak Unique DS lens, the spokesperson added.

Included with their announcements, Carl Zeiss Vision and Essilor issued a statement indicating that the cross licensing agreements, “reaffirm their commitments to developing advanced technology and sophisticated ophthalmic products to accelerate the development of the market with enhanced products for consumers worldwide.”

Essilor is the second lens maker to sign a license agreement with Zeiss concerning its patent on back-surface free-form progressive lens technology. Late last month, Zeiss reached a similar agreement with Hoya Vision Care Corp.