Solaia wins Schneider Electric patent auction

North Andover, Mass. - In a press release dated March 11, 2002, and just obtained by Control Engineering, Schneider Electric's Automation Business (SEAB) announced it has concluded negotiations with Solaia Technology LLP of Chicago Illinois, the winning bidder in the SEAB auction of a set of patents that cover spreadsheet access to PLCs.

By Control Engineering Staff April 17, 2002

North Andover, Mass. – In a press release dated March 11, 2002, and just obtained by Control Engineering , Schneider Electric’s Automation Business (SEAB) announced it has concluded negotiations with Solaia Technology LLP of Chicago Illinois, the winning bidder in the SEAB auction of a set of patents that cover spreadsheet access to PLCs. The resulting agreement with Solaia Technology gives them ownership of the patents and SEAB will retain a non-exclusive license for itself and for the users of any equipment SEAB sells. SEAB tried in this transaction to provide the maximum protection for its customers and its affiliates.

The ‘Spreadsheet Patent’ is a set of patents valid in USA, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, Canada, and Korea. It covers the work of Square D’s Brooks Roseman on the interfacing of spreadsheets and PLCs.

SEAB created the auction approach to licensing as a non-confrontational means for licensing its technology. SEAB sent bid packages and letters to hundreds of companies. ‘Between the press coverage, the packages, the letters, and the discussions on several automation news groups,’ said Richard Baker, SEAB’s director of intellectual property, ‘the entire industry knew that this technology was available for a license.’

The auction offered both licenses to the technology and the rights to purchase the patents outright. Licenses were offered at a minimum bid of $35 per seat. None of the traditional automation companies that supply this technology to manufacturers chose to bid. ‘SEAB is surprised that no one bid for a license, even when we set the minimum bid to a fraction of its true value’, said Mr. Baker, ‘but we are happy that Solaia Technology validated our auctioning approach to licensing.’

Any licensing inquiries on this set of patents should be addressed to Solaia Technology LLP, Bank One Plaza, Suite 3180, 21 South Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor
gmintchell@cahners.com