Cognex recently filed a lawsuit against Microscan Systems alleging patent infringement by their Mobile Hawk product used to read Direct Part Mark (DPM) codes. With Microscan contesting this claim and calling it “without merit”, we can expect to see a long drawn-out battle. Cognex has been working towards aggressively expanding its lower cost barcode scanning product line to keep up with rising demand and capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunity in relatively under-penetrated regions and verticals. While the company’s intellectual property-related battles have historically been limited to Machine Vision technology, this development suggests an increasing focus on protecting its IP in the high-growth barcode scanner market, especially around camera-based imaging technology. Interestingly, Microscan is also one of Cognex’s leading competitors in the Machine Vision marketplace, particularly in the pharmaceuticals and clinical device manufacturing sector.
Even though the barcode scanner market has become increasingly commoditized, IP is still a relevant and meaningful asset that vendors hold. We firmly believe manufacturers and patent holders have a right to defend it. Will low cost solutions providers now be in the line-of-sight of those with IP?