Fingerprint sensor suit heats up

Published 25 March 2009

For a year now, two fingerprint technology rivals, AuthenTec and Atrua Technologies, have been locked in a legal battle over patents; last week, and for the second time since the suits were filed, the judge in the case has ruled in favor of AuthenTec

A lawsuit in the fingerprint sensor market is heating up. Two rivals, Melbourne, Florida-based AuthenTec and Campbell, California-based Atrua Technologies last year began to trade patent suits. Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ”denied Atrua’s motion to add a claim of misappropriation of trade secrets as a counterclaim to AuthenTec’s patent infringement claims, and further denied its motion for a preliminary injunction against AuthenTec,” according to AuthenTec.

The court, according to AuthenTec, ”had already denied a previous motion for a temporary restraining order. The court also ruled that Atrua violated a previous court order in the case.”

The court is currently scheduled to proceed with claim construction of the first two of five patents that AuthenTec has asserted.


On 12 March 2008 AuthenTec filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Atrua in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The suit  alleged that Atrua’s fingerprint sensors infringe three of AuthenTec’s patents. ”Two of the patents relate to fingerprint sensor packaging and the third relates to fingerprint sensor circuitry,” according to a filing. ”We seek monetary damages for infringement by Atrua’s fingerprint sensor products and an injunction against Atrua’s future infringement of the patents.”

Then, on 15 May, Atrua filed a counter suit against AuthenTec, charging patent infringement and illegal interference with Atrua’s business. “In addition to conducting our own thorough review of AuthenTec allegations against us, legal counsel and customers have now carefully reviewed the asserted patents and concluded that there is no merit to AuthenTec’s suit,” said Anthony Gioeli, CEO of Atrua, in a statement.

Already within weeks of the filing and counter filing, the U.S. District Court of Northern California issued an order in favor of AuthenTec, ruling that its fingerprint sensor products do not infringe either of the two patents asserted in a suit by Atrua, according to AuthenTec.