A lawsuit has been filed by bio-based additive manufacturer Reactive Surfaces in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas. The suit alleges that, although Toyota filed patent applications long after Reactive Surfaces, the United States Patent and Trademark Office incorrectly granted certain patents to Toyota, and that the government agency is continuing to incorrectly grant Toyota patents in view of Reactive Surfaces’ own earlier filed U.S. patent applications disclosing and claiming the same inventions. A change in U.S. patent laws – a change that will radically alter US patent laws from a first-to-invent system to one based upon first-to-file - looms very large in this series of legal challenges. The innovation at the heart of the Reactive Surfaces’ suits is a platform technology using biological enzymes entrained in coatings for surfaces like touch screens, mirrors, windows, etc. which cause those surfaces to self-clean themselves from contamination by fingerprints, greasy smudges, makeup, and other natural oils that are otherwise difficult to remove and which significantly deteriorate the view and appearance. There are enormous markets at stake in the automotive industry, the electronics industry, food preparation industry, and more. The Federal lawsuit seeks a ruling from the Court regarding over a half dozen patent interference proceedings that Reactive Surfaces simultaneously filed in opposition to the Toyota patents and patent applications. It also seeks a judgment from the Court that the small company is the rightful inventor of the subject technology, that none of its commercialization efforts such as its eRACE cell phone screen protectors infringe any Toyota patent claim, and that the Toyota patents are invalid and unenforceable.
Dr. Steve McDaniel, founder and chief innovation officer of Reactive Surfaces, “These actions brought by our small cutting-edge start-up company against a mega corporation are existential for us. Our actions against Toyota will air this out thoroughly in the full sunshine of a case presented to a jury of peers, and we strongly believe that we will prevail. We invented enzymatic self-cleaning coatings, not Toyota, and that will be very, very obvious.”
Toyota declined to provide comment regarding the lawsuit.