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nating. Although this would reduce the number of patents issuing, I suspect that the quality would be vastly increased, and the number of tests in court would be reduced, making the issuing of a patent more meaningful. A short case history is presented later, in which the author served as an expert witness in a patent interference trial between two well known laser companies, which illustrates some of the above points.


During 1982-1983, AT&T prepared for divestiture. In early 1983 the eventual founder of a semiconductor laser company announced his intention to take early retirement from AT&T Bell Labs after 26 years of service, in turn, as a member of technical staff, supervisor, department head, and finally laboratory director. During his last four years he had led a laboratory developing and introducing into manufacture devices for use in fiber-optic communication systems.

After his retirement in July 1983, this individual started an active consulting career and worked regularly for AMP, Inc. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. AMP was a well-known connector company interested in moving into fiber-optic interconnection technology. While consulting, the individual in question prepared a business plan for starting a company to manufacture semiconductor lasers and other products that would be of interest to AMP. In November, he completed the plan and incorporated LYTEL, a Delaware corporation, to be the start-up company. He also presented the plan to AMP management, who indicated strong interest in being an investor. He informed AT&T of his plans to start a laser company. Its main concern, as expressed to him, was that he not use AT&T proprietary information and not raid its employees or hire too many of them. The number six was suggested as a maximum tolerable loss.

AMP's main concern was that LYTEL not use any proprietary information belonging to AT&T or do anything that would upset them; AT&T was an important customer for AMP's products. Those concerns were major ones for the founder as well, because he valued his association with AT&T and felt that using its proprietary information would be unethical. At this point the initial management team for LYTEL came together to plan the company and refine the business plan. One of the main activities was establishing process instructions for the products to be manufactured that would use only processes defined in the published literature. The team also tried to establish what information AT&T would be able to legitimately claim as proprietary information. They concluded that there was virtually nothing, for two reasons: (1) AT&T had a policy of open and timely publication of research results. This was dictated by the public utility commissions that

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