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Omni-ID Sues Xerafy and RFID TagSource

Omni-ID contends that Xerafy is manufacturing and marketing on-metal RFID tags that infringe on two of its patents, and that RFID TagSource is selling tags that infringe on those patents.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 08, 2013

RFID technology company Omni-ID has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against its competitor, Xerafy Ltd., as well as one of Xerafy's business partners, RFID TagSource. The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 8 of this year in the U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J. Xerafy says it is currently reviewing Omni-ID's claims. "We are very confident in our intellectual property position," said Xerafy’s CEO, in a statement issued by company. What's more, a company spokesperson asserts, "the Omni-ID lawsuit makes claims about product designs and reading methods that Xerafy does not even use."

Both Omni-ID and Xerafy manufacture rugged read-on-metal EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags. Omni-ID was initially a division of British research firm QinetiQ, but spun off as a separate company in 2007, and is now based in Rochester, N.Y. The firm invented a design that it called a "plasmonic structure," which employs layers of conductors and dielectrics to isolate an RF signal from a tag's surrounding environment, in order to ensure that a passive UHF RFID tag performs successfully on or near metal and liquids. Omni-ID sells a variety of tags based on that technology, and designed for tracking assets within harsh environments. Xerafy, founded in 2010 and headquartered in Hong Kong with an office in Texas, also produces rugged read-on-metal EPC UHF RFID tags used in aerospace, as well as in industrial, health-care and data-center environments. In addition, the company has developed a passive UHF tag designed for embedding in metal. In its lawsuit, Omni-ID claims that TagSource, based in Camden, N.J., is a "distributor of infringing products, including, for example, Xerafy's infringing products."

The Omni-ID complaint charges that Xerafy and RFID TagSource have violated two of Omni-ID's patents, one for an "Electromagnetic Radiant Decoupler" (patent no. 7,768,400), which Omni-ID's British predecessor filled with the U.S. Patent Office on June 23, 2006, and the other for "Electromagnetic Enhancement and Decoupling" (patent no. 7,880,619), filed with the Patent Office on June 15, 2007. For the past year, licenses for both patents have been available for purchase via the company's Omni Global Technology Licensing (OGTL) Program (see RFID New Roundup: Omni-ID Launches Global Technology Licensing Program). "Imitation is the best form of flattery, and Omni-ID has been truly flattered since launching the first high performance on-metal tags to the market in 2005," said Ed Nabrotzky, Omni-ID's CTO, in a prepared statement announcing the OGTL program on Mar. 14, 2012. "It is very clear that many on-metal products being sold today are based on these foundational patents held by Omni-ID."

In U.S. Patent 7,768,400, the company describes an electromagnetic radiation decoupler consisting of a dielectric layer sandwiched between two conductor layers, intended to protect a tag from performance degradation that could be caused by the metallic surface on which a tag is mounted. In U.S. Patent 7,880,619, the firm describes electromagnetic enhancement and decoupling technology designed to protect a tag from the degradation properties of metal, by providing a mount with a dielectric cavity into which the tag itself is placed.

Omni-ID contends, in its suit, that on three separate occasions last year—on Feb. 13, May 15 and July 9—the company notified Xerafy about what it perceived as infringement of the two patents. It further claims that Xerafy ignored those notices and launched additional products using technology that the plaintiff contends utilizes its intellectual property. The lawsuit cites Xerafy's Data Trak II tag as one example of a recently released tag that violates Omni-ID's patents.

In the lawsuit, Omni-ID asked the court to adjudge that the defendants have infringed the two patents; award damages for past, current and future infringements; issue an injunction permanently enjoining the defendants from further infringement; and award the plaintiff attorney's fees and enhanced damages. The company demanded a trial by jury on all of its claims.

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