ORANGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Redline Detection announced today that in a first instance decision, the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, Germany, has unanimously ruled to revoke in its entirety Star EnviroTech's European Patent No. 1,384,984 dealing with the use of nitrogen generated smoke with dye to leak test vehicles in Europe. At an opposition proceeding between Redline Detection and Star EnviroTech, it was determined that Star’s method for detecting leaks in a fluid system with nitrogen and/or UV dye as claimed is not patentable over Star’s own prior art. Consequently, the European Patent Office has prevented efforts by Star EnviroTech and its president Jim Saffie to monopolize the use of nitrogen generated smoke with a dye. Zachary Parker, CEO of Redline Detection, shared his view that “the EPO oral hearing was impressive to attend as it was fast, thorough, and driven by fact-finding discussion. The United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) would be well served to emulate the efficient and effective European system.”
Star EnviroTech formerly obtained European Patent No. 1,384,984 for a method of testing vehicles for leaks using nitrogen and fluorescent dye to generate smoke, seeking to block all competitors from using such methods. But such patents require a new invention that was not previously used, published, or publicly known. While claiming that it was a new invention, Star EnviroTech and its president Jim Saffie failed to disclose to the Patent Office that such use was well known in the United States years before Star filed for its European Patent covering exactly the same thing.
To stop Star’s monopolization efforts in Europe, Redline Detection stepped in to make the European Patent Office aware that the method was known long before Star improperly patented it in Europe. While an appeal is possible, it will prove challenging for Star EnviroTech because the improperly claimed method is disclosed in Star’s manuals, in third-party manuals, and a Star trademark on an oil-based fluid with UV dye used for leak testing – all long before Star EnviroTech improperly sought its European patent.
In light of this information the European Patent Office revoked Star’s improperly obtained patent – but did so over Star’s protests and over Star’s denials that the process was old as shown by Star’s own materials. Star EnviroTech’s attempt to improperly monopolize the use of nitrogen-generated smoke containing fluorescent dye is thus thwarted in Europe. When Mr. Parker was asked why Star would attempt to contest a patent revocation with clear facts against them he offered, “Perhaps Star EnviroTech has been licensing and selling technology that it does not own in Europe, Canada, and other countries. While most OEM automakers do not require the use of nitrogen to test vehicles for leaks – and several actually forbid the use of dye – no company, including Star EnviroTech, should ever use improperly obtained patents to unlawfully prevent healthy, legal competition. Now all tool and equipment manufacturers are free to use nitrogen and UV dye to test vehicles in Europe.”
Star obtained similar nitrogen/dye patents using the same questionable methods in several other countries such as Canada, Japan, Australia, and Spain by not disclosing to the Patent Office it was patenting old technology. It is expected that Star EnviroTech will move to vacate those patents or suffer the same fate of having them publicly overturned as happened in Europe.
About Redline Detection
Redline Detection LLC, headquartered in Orange, Calif., develops and manufactures the world’s best-selling diagnostic leak detection equipment in the automotive aftermarket. OEM-mandated in 112 countries around the world, Redline equipment has built a global fan base for its professional grade custom diagnostic solutions, as well as for its ability to increase the bottom line. To learn more about Redline Detection and its innovative, award-winning products, please visit www.redlinedetection.com.