US Conec fires back at Senko in VSFF patent tiff

May 8, 2023
The most recent filing in the disagreement sees US Conec deny the allegations and contains charges that Senko violated US Conec patents. SENKO, in a written statement to Lightwave, reaffirmed that it expects to triumph in court.

US Conec filed a response April 14, 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in response to a January, 24, 2023, Senko Advanced Components (SENKO) suit that alleges US Conec violated SENKO patents on very small form factor (VSFF) fiber-optic connectors (see “SENKO alleges VSFF fiber connector patent infringement in suit against US Conec”). The most recent filing in the disagreement sees US Conec deny the allegations and contains allegations that Senko violated US Conec patents. SENKO, in a written statement to Lightwave, reaffirmed that it expects to triumph in court.

Both companies make VSFF connectors and associated adapters – the CS, SN, and SN-MT connectors in SENKO’s case, and the MMC and MDC connectors in US Conec’s. SENKO filed its suit in the Delaware District Court to allege that US Conec’s VSFF connectors and adapters violate seven SENKO patents. The company requested the court award it monetary damages as well as forbid US Conec from selling the MMC and MDC devices.

US Conec denies these claims in the April 14 filing, questions the validity and/or the enforceability of the SENKO patents, suggests any claims SENKO seeks should be barred “by the doctrine of patent misuse,” and at one point states that “Senko has covenanted not to sue US Conec on the Asserted Patents,” among other assertions. US Conec goes on to allege that its U.S. Patent Nos. 10,156,684; 10,890,723; 11,385,415; and 11,340,405 have been violated by SENKO via various SN and SN-MT adapters and CS and SN APC connector products. The patents all relate generally to adapters for aligning and connecting fiber-optic ferrules in fiber-optic connectors. The ‘684 Patent, “Alignment Adapter and Alignment Design for a Connector Therefor,” is a division of the earlier U.S. Patent No. 9,857,538; the '723 is a continuation from '684 and '415 is a continuation from '723. The '405 Patent is titled “Multi-Ferrule Angled Polished Connector with Simplified Polarity Reversal."

US Conec is seeking a declaratory judgement that SENKO’s allegations are false as well as monetary damages and a permanent injunction against SENKO’s alleged infringement of US Conec’s patents. Failing such action, the company has demanded a jury trial.

No comment and comment

US Conec declined to comment on the record about its filing. Senko provided a written statement in response to a request for comment. The statement, attributed to SENKO Vice President Jim Hasegawa, reads:

“We have carefully considered the response and counterclaims made by US CONEC and remain confident in our position as the pioneer and innovation leader in the VSFF market. Moreover, SENKO will continue providing its full line of VSFF products to customers. We believe that our technology and patents speak for themselves and are confident that the legal process will ultimately support our position.

“SENKO has been working since 2015 to facilitate ‘multi-port transceivers’ with ‘direct-breakout' capability. This pioneering work has not only changed the way that transceivers are connected in ‘spine-leaf' architectures, but it has also led to a broad range of VSFF connectors on the market today, including the CS®, SN®, and SN®-MT connectors.

“Our focus remains on delivering the best possible VSFF solutions to our customers and partners. We are committed to driving innovation and pushing the industry forward. We continue offering our technology to transceiver manufacturers and fiber optic hardware companies to make our technology more accessible to the broader market.”

Hasegawa also pointed to a new whitepaper about SENKO’s VSFF activities. US Conec has brochures available on the MMC and MDC as well.

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