STAR’s five patent challenge wins(1) were mostly centered on STAR’s now “industry standard” technologies. These wins – especially the last, are a lengthy and expensive process that serves to validate STAR’s efforts and tenacity. The most recent, a “nitrogen patent” challenge was before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”), a specialized court at the USPTO.
The “nitrogen patent” (6,526,808) for producing smoke vapor using inert gas (e.g. nitrogen) for safer fuel evaporative (EVAP) leak detection was challenged on three separate occasions by Redline – all without success. Another technology recently unsuccessfully challenged by Redline, the “UV dye patent” for embedding non-contaminating dye in smoke vapor, has proven very effective for finding leaks that smoke alone can’t find.
“Redline has challenged our patents for the past 4½ years. Our wins reconfirm that they cannot use our patented ‘nitrogen’ or ‘dye’ technologies,” said STAR EnviroTech CEO Jim Saffie.
Papers published by SAE International(2) and other empirical data clearly shows the potential safety hazards of any equipment introducing air containing oxygen into the fuel tank of a motor vehicle. A typical EVAP leak test only takes one to five minutes to potentially create a flammable fuel mixture inside the fuel tank. There are many ignition sources that can migrate into the fuel tank at the leak point when EVAP testing.
STAR’s patented method of using nitrogen instead of air, in the smoke production process, virtually eliminates the risk of potential explosion during EVAP testing because no oxygen is introduced into the vehicle’s fuel tank. STAR believes protecting and enforcing these patents is an ethical obligation to technician safety and to its distributors/licensees.
“We’ve worked long and hard for the patents the US Patent Office granted us (as well as our international patents),” said Saffie. “We have a moral obligation to our licensees and distribution partners to protect those patents. They have made an investment in our technologies which must be protected.”
When STAR filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Redline almost two years ago for infringement of its “nitrogen patent”, Redline filed its PTAB challenge which put STAR’s patent infringement suit on hold(3). Fortunately, STAR’s recent victory at the USPTO solidifies the validity of STAR’s patented technology and allows its infringement lawsuit against Redline to move forward.
With headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, STAR EnviroTech, a privately-held corporation, develops award-winning technologies that are considered the “industry standard” for leak testing in fuel evaporative (EVAP), vacuum/induction and other vehicle and non-vehicle systems. STAR holds 21 valid patents for its technologies and has several patents pending. STAR licenses its technologies to some of the largest tool manufacturers and distributors worldwide; and are available in 125 countries and is so far OEM-mandated in 41 countries. Its technologies are inside 100% of internationally OEM-mandated smoke machines and are recommended or required by virtually every major automaker.
STAR Technologies are inside equipment supplying the automotive, industrial, marine, and aviation industries, including the Canadian Air Force and the U.S. Military. For more information on STAR EnviroTech, go to http://www.StarEnviroTech.com
1: (USPTO Reexams: 90/011,916, 90/011,544, 90/011,545, 90/009,683 and Case: IPR2013-00106)
3: [SACV12-1861-DOC (C.D. Cal)]