Ability plunges on Largan injunction, patent probe

LENS MAKERS::Largan claimed that former employees had stolen its trade secrets and given them to Ability, which had them registered in Taiwan, China and the US

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - Page 13

Ability Optoelectronic Technology Inc’s (先進光電) stock nosedived yesterday after a local court approved Largan Precision Co’s (大立光) request for an injunction to freeze some of its smaller rival’s assets and prosecutors stepped up a probe into allegations of patent infringement.

Largan, whose shares moved up 0.5 percent yesterday, said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that a local district court had granted the injunction to seize Ability’s assets worth NT$1.53 billion (US$51.5 million).

Largan claimed in the filing that its former employees had stolen trade secrets related to the company’s automation and process technologies and given them to Ability, which then secured patent registrations for them in Taiwan, China and the US.

“The behavior of these employees has infringed on our intellectual property,” the world’s largest handset camera lens supplier said in the filing.

“The company has also filed criminal charges against the related people [including Ability and its chairman] on theft of trade secrets, breach of trust and copyright infringement,” it said.

Largan, which did not name its former employees, said it had also reported the issue to the nation’s Intellectual Property Court. Its latest patent litigation came after the company filed a patent lawsuit against another domestic rival, Genius Electronic Optical Co (玉晶光), in June.

In response, Ability said four former Largan engineers involved in the matter secured two patents when they were working at Ability based on their “expertise and skills.” Ability said the four engineers no longer work for the company and it has stopped using the two patents in its production lines.

“The company has retired the two patents because of production line needs,” the company said.

Ability said it would appeal to the higher court to nullify the district Court’s injunction.

The company said certain funds, assets and equipment would be affected by the injunction, but that it expected the move to have a limited impact on its operations.

Ability’s shares, which have declined 12.84 percent so far this year, fell by the 7 percent daily limit to close at NT$32.25 yesterday. Largan, meanwhile, saw its shares rise to NT$1,015, retaining its title as the highest priced stock in the local market.