The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has confirmed 20 Seiko Epson patent claims covering the invention of back-surface progressive lenses. The office has also ruled that six additional claims submitted by Seiko were patentable.
On May 21, 2013, Ocuco had submitted a request for a re-examination of Seiko's U.S. patent 6,019,470, which USPTO had granted. The patent in question is a broad patent covering both product designs and manufacturing methods for back-surface progressive lenses to treat astigmatism. Lodged on Feb. 1, 2000, this particular patent was the basis for royalties charged by Seiko to laboratories producing back-surface progressive lenses. After examining cited deficiencies in the references submitted by Ocuco, the U.S. Patent Office agreed with Seiko that they failed “‘to disclose or to have rendered obvious providing both a progressive reflective surface and an astigmatism surface on the same side of the lens.”
Seiko Optical Products of America publicly expressed gratitude for what it called “the swift and decisive action taken by USPTO,” adding that the new claims 21 to 26 give Seiko's licensed partners additional protections to the original patent. In contrast, Ocuco expressed disappointment at the findings, saying that although they think the patent examiner's reasoning was demonstrably wrong, in an “ex-parte” re-examination they do not get to argue their case beyond the initial submission.