Two companies can’t see eye to eye

Iridian Technologies and LG Electronics are in the midst of a battle over iris tech. license
Friday, October 1, 2004

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. - Iridian Technologies and LG Electronics are trying to sort out their differences over an iris recognition technology co-developed by the two companies and then licensed to LG Electronics for use.

Officials from both companies declined to comment on the nature of the dispute, but the disagreement has left two views on where the software license agreement stands. It also brings into question the future of the LG Iris Access 3000, a camera that incorporates the technology from LG Electronics.

According to Iridian Technologies, it has terminated the license agreement with LG Electronics, while LG Electronics says it continues to hold the rights for the iris technology and will continue to sell the camera that incorporates the iris recognition technology.

In the meantime, LG Electronics has filed a lawsuit to tap into a dispute resolution clause written as part of the original license agreement. In its lawsuit, LG Electronics also claims Iridian Technologies contacted LG Electronic’s current and prospective customers to comments on the dispute.

The disagreement surfaced in late August and comes after the two companies had worked together for seven years.

According to David Johnston, vice president of marketing for LG Electronics, the companies signed a license agreement in 1997 after co-developing the iris recognition technology. In 2000, Iridian Technologies decided to focus on developing its software solution, said Johnston, rather than deal with hardware sales.

Johnston said he could not speculate on how long it would take for the companies to come to a resolution. In the meantime, he said “it’s business as usual,” and the disagreement has not disrupted the availability of its product.

Frank Fitzsimmons, president and chief executive officer of Moorestown, N.J.-based Iridian Technologies, declined to comment on the company’s relationship with LG Electronics. He said Iridian Technologies also has long-standing agreements with camera manufacturers Oki and Panasonic, with both companies using the iris recognition technology in their cameras.

Though iris recognition technology has yet to gain widespread acceptance like other access control solutions, biometric applications that rely on iris recognition is picking up steam. According to Fitzsimmons, the technology is now being used at border crossings and in five airports as part of a trial program to identify frequent flyers.