iRobot suing for PackBot patent infringement

Robotic FX Negotiator robot infringes on PackBot patents, former employee broke confidentiality agreements, iRobot alleges.

Robotics company iRobot announced Monday that it has filed two lawsuits concerning its PackBot military robot and former employee Jameel Ahed, the founder and president of Robotic FX.

Ahed's Illinois-based company sells the Negotiator, a tactical surveillance robot that has been purchased by Illinois state police.

The Negotiator by Robotic FX
The Negotiator by Robotic FX Robotic FX

Robotic FX's Negotiator is "a knock-off version of the combat-proven iRobot PackBot robot," said an iRobot statement on the matter.

"We are currently reviewing our legal options and intend to aggressively defend our position," Ahed said in an e-mailed statement.

"Robotic FX sold its first Negotiator Tactical Surveillance robot in July 2004. iRobot's lawsuits, filed more than three years later, comes during a time when the two parties are competing for a significant government contract," according to a Robotic FX statement.

One lawsuit, filed in Massachusetts Superior Court, is against Ahed personally for "misappropriation and misuse of confidential information related to iRobot's PackBot that was used to build the Negotiator," according to an iRobot statement.

The second is a patent infringement lawsuit against Robotic FX in Alabama Northern District Court.

iRobot PackBot
iRobot PackBot iRobot

The Negotiator allegedly violates U.S. Patent Nos. 6,263,989 and 6,431,296 that relate to robot platform and mobility, according iRobot's August 17 complaint filed in federal district court.

iRobot is suing for a permanent injunction to prevent Robotic FX from selling the Negotiator, treble damages for all the robots sold--including calculated loss of iRobot profits--and attorney's fees, according to court documents.

The company is also requesting that all Negotiator robots proven to be infringing on the PackBot patents be delivered to iRobot "for destruction."

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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