VOL. 124 | NO. 211 | Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Luminetx Uses Patents as Loan Collateral
By Tom Wilemon
Memphis-based Luminetx Corp. has signed over the patents for the technologies behind its VeinViewer products to a Japanese company that has loaned it money.
The company assigned its “Contrast Enhancing Illuminator,” “Imaging System Using Diffuse Infrared Light” and “Imaging System Using Diffuse Infrared Light” patents over to Christie Digital Systems Inc., according to the U.S. Patent Office online database. The “security agreement” conveyance occurred after Luminetx announced this summer that it had settled a lawsuit alleging infringement on those same patents by another company, Accuvein LLC of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.
Chris Schnee, executive vice president of global marketing and international sales for Luminetx, said the conveyance was to secure a loan.
“When a technology company such as ours enters into a loan secured against the assets of the company, the creditor is given a security interest in the company’s assets, which includes the intellectual property and therefore the patents,” Schnee said. “The security interest in the physical assets is established with a filing at the Secretary of State’s office and the security interest in the IP, which requires a filing at the USPTO. This is an ordinary course transaction, and the intellectual property remains an asset of the company but is pledged to secure the repayment of the obligation as and when due.”
He did not disclose the amount of the loan. Luminetx is not a publicly traded company so its finances are not public record.
Herb Zeman, the inventor of the patents and the founder of Luminetx who was fired from the company in 2007, remains one of its major stockholders. He said he did not like the company going into debt with Christie. Christie is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ushio Inc., a Japanese company.
“At the stockholders meeting, there was a group of us who wanted to change the board and take over and get investor money,” Zeman said. “We failed at that effort. The group that was going to try to take over the board was going to essentially pay off the Christie loan.
“Christie lent the company money, and we were going to put up other money to pay off that loan. I suppose, then, the people lending the money would have gotten that same kind of listing on the USPTO Web site. That doesn’t mean that they really have the patent. It means they would get the patent if the loan defaulted.”
Under terms of the settlement agreement between Luminetx and Accuvein LLC, Accuvein agreed to license the Luuminetx technology that allows veins to be viewed easily underneath the skin. Other terms of the agreement were confidential.
Luminetx sued Accuvein last year after it announced it was launching a competing product. Luminetx began selling the VeinViewer in fall 2006 for about $25,000 a unit.