Black Box Jerry

Name used by some patent examiners at the USPTO to describe the late Jerry Lemelson, an individual who filed (and won) a wide variety of patents in a number of areas. Of particular importance are a number of patents in machine vision - filed long before the technology became practical (and delayed intentionally with numerous continuations until a practical implementation was developed by someone else - see SubmarinePatent).

For more info, see the following article which appeared in Fortune Magazine. This article is hosted at the website of Cognex, a leading manufacturer of machine vision systems, who is suing the Lemelson Foundation (which collects royalties on behalf of Lemelson's estate) to have the patents invalidated.

Update: Cognex won their lawsuit. Due to the doctrine of "prosecution laches" (referring to the excessive delay in prosecuting the application), the patents may not be enforced.

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