The Associated Press May 11, 2011, 6:24PM ET

Analog Devices hails ruling; opponent notes nuance

Analog Devices Inc. said Wednesday that the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled in its favor in a patent case. But its opponent, Knowles Electronics LLC, sought to tamp down the significance of the ruling saying that the manufacturing process that it currently uses is not affected.

Norwood, Mass.-based Analog Device, a maker of analog chips that convert things like light, sound and temperature into a digital form that computers can understand, said that the commission found that Knowles infringed a patent. As a result, Knowles will be prohibited from importing into the U.S. certain microphones containing the patented technology.

Knowles, an Itasca, Ill.-based company whose microphones are used in cellphones and other electronics, said in its own statement that the affected microphones were made using an older manufacturing process, and that Knowles' current manufacturing process doesn't violate Analog Devices' patents.

"Knowles no longer uses the processes at issue in the ITC case, having transitioned all of its production to one of its manufacturing processes that ADI did not accuse of infringement during the ITC investigation," Knowles said.

Knowles said that the commission's decision means that supplies to customers won't be interrupted.

Still, Analog Devices said it is seeking damages for past sales of the microphones.

The microphones in question use a technology known as micro-electromechanical systems, or MEMS. Analog Devices has said in regulatory filings that the combination of MEMS technology with certain "signal conditioning" technology is a unique feature of its products, which also include accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Analog Devices shares closed Wednesday at $40.75.


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