Vesuvius, a global manufacturer of fused silica refractory rollers used in glass tempering, glass forming, solar and metallurgical industries, has announced legal action in a European court against overseas companies it accuses of infringing upon its intellectual property rights associated with Smartly Driven roll patents and end cap attachment technology.

According to Marcus Bancroft, sales manager Americas at Vesuvius USA, the company patented the technology in 2008. Last year, someone approached Vesuvius with a part they needed duplicated. The part allegedly used the same patented Vesuvius technology, according to Bancroft, but was not made by Vesuvius.

Following an extensive investigation, Vesuvius identified several patent violations associated with fused silica roll technology, which is used in tempering furnaces.

Vesuvius’ rolls are used in tempering furnaces.

“Every tempering furnace has a set of rollers inside,” says Bancroft. “These rollers are made by Vesuvius in three locations around the world: France, the U.S. and China. The rollers are made of a special type of ceramic that can withstand the temperature inside the furnace without changing shape. These ceramic rollers are attached to the furnace mechanism by metal endcaps. The patented technology is called Smartly Driven, and it replaced glue as a means of attaching the endcaps on the roll. Glue is fragile and easily damaged by heat. Smartly Driven is an all-mechanical, metal system that can withstand heat and other forces.”

A typical furnace can contain between 50 and 300 rolls.

Vesuvius is working to make OEM furnace builders aware of the alleged infringement.

“…if rollers fitted with such end caps are incorporated into a furnace, both the OEM and the end customer could unknowingly be infringing Vesuvius’ patents.  Such infringement, even if inadvertent and resolved amicably, could result in significant expenses for replacement of infringing rollers, in addition to unnecessary disturbance of customers’ operation,” reads a company release.