PATENTS: Too Close For Corning

Too Close For Corning

Despite their reputation for invincibility, Japanese companies do not win every competitive battle they enter. After five years of effort, Sumitomo Electric Industries has captured only 1% of the U.S. market for optical fibers, the hair-thin glass strands used in high-capacity telecommunications. Now even that meager market share is endangered.

Last week a U.S. district court in Manhattan ruled that Sumitomo violated U.S. patent law by copying too closely the designs of products made by Corning Glass Works, the company that developed the first commercially useful communications fibers in 1970. The court enjoined Sumitomo from making and selling in the U.S....

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