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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Engineer Says Defense Inventions Were Stolen

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) - An engineer who specializes in state-of-the-art gunfire detection and countermeasures claims Kongsberg Defense Corporation violated his patents on acoustic and optic sensor detection. Thomas Smith has been developing such systems since the Vietnam War.

Smith says he "was the lead acoustics engineer on the first project team to successfully apply the principles of acoustics to design the first helicopter mounted acoustic gunfire detector, tested and utilized during hostile warfare in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969. ... At that time he conceived the pioneering concept of sensor fusion, among the diverse technologies of acoustics and optics in the field of weapon machinery and systems."

Smith, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, says in his federal complaint that his work has been recognized by Johns Hopkins University and others.

He says his "sensor fusion innovation" combines the best elements of acoustic and optical sensing, while reducing their drawbacks.

"In essence, while acoustic sensing is accurate in detecting gunfire and the region of its origin, its ability to pinpoint in that region is limited," according to the complaint. "And while optical sensing is more prone to false alarms, and limited in compass, it excels in pinpoint precision.

"The synergy of plaintiff's sensor fusion innovation has been to eliminate the erstwhile disadvantages of the discrete systems and attain their combined benefits."

He got his first U.S. patent on "acoustic and optical sensor fusion" in 1999, and two "subsequent continuations in part patents," he says.

Smith says Kongsberg, of Johnstown, Pa., is making and selling machinery and systems that violate his patents on acoustic and sensor fusion. Among the infringing products are "CROWS II and comparable differently named weapon systems," the complaint states.

[CROWS II stands for Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station. It enables soldiers to locate and engage targets while inside a vehicle, protected by its armor, or in the case of aircraft, by its height. The Pentagon has spent billions buying such systems, and Kongsberg received more than $1 billion for its systems, according to defense industry publications.]

Smith claims Kongsberg's systems violate three of his patents.

He seeks treble damages and costs.

He is represented by Kathryn Simpson with Mette Evans & Woodside.

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