The University of Limerick (UL) is being sued by a technology recycling company which claims a patent for the process of treating LCD display screens to remove hazardous substances is invalid.
Cork-based Peregrine Technologies (Holdings) Ltd, which is involved in the development and marketing of advanced technological solutions for recycling waste electronic equipment, says the patent granted to UL in 2016 should be revoked. The patent was renewed last December.
The disposal of old LCD screens is particularly problematic because they contain hazardous mercury which can cause emissions into the atmosphere or into groundwater if dumped in landfills or incinerated. Under the recycling process, they are disposed of safely.
Peregrine's developments include a robotic recycling system to process end-of-life flat screens and laptops and in particular a system called the FPD Pro.
It says a company called ALR Innovations, trading as Votechnik, and which holds an exclusive licence for the UL patent, recently sent correspondence to it (Peregrine) alleging that the FPD Pro System infringes the patent. Peregrine rejects that claim.
It says UL's patent is invalid and should be revoked because its specification extends beyond what it disclosed in its patent application. It also says the patent lacks novelty and an inventive step.
It brought High Court proceedings against UL seeking that the patent be declared invalid. UL, which denies the claims, consented on Monday to the Peregrine action being admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list.
Mr Justice Denis McDonald approved directions for progressing the case and said it could come back to court in June.
In its action, Peregrine seeks a declaration that the patent is invalid. It seeks an order that it be revoked or such orders, under the European Communities (Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights) Regulations 2008, as may be appropriate.