Not really. What TeleVue had was a design patent, and Meade changed the internals just enough to get around the patent, such as separating a singlet lens into a doublet and narrowing the field of view.
"TeleVue decided that patenting their design didn't serve them well, and it looks like their subsequent approach worked well for them."
"Trying to defend a patent against a Chinese company is very expensive and an exercise in futility."
Neither of these statements make a lick of sense IMO. First, Televue went to the trouble of getting Nagler patents yet elected NOT to enforce them against Meade.
The reason was (a) and Meade did purposely have the TeleVue eyepieces copied. I know that for a fact.
The logical conclusion is that Televue thought it would lose such a suit. Reasons one loses a patent suit are numerous, but the big two are (a) your patent is valid but not infringed by the other guy's design or (b) your patent is invalid. Because Televue rolled over and showed its belly to Meade we'll never know for sure why it gave Meade a "pass" but concluding that Meade somehow did something wrong is ridiculous.
Well, it was a little different, and suing would have cost the fledgling company a lot of money it didn't have, and the case might have been lost. At the time, Meade was the 300-lb gorilla in the astro world.
It is just as likely, given these facts, that Televue's patent was weak or Meade design innovative enough over Televues that Televue had no case.
Perhaps, in one perspective. In another, they aren't the same customer. There are visible differences. People buy the Zeiss Abbe Orthoscopic even though it is only slightly better than much cheaper offerings. The same is true of TeleVue. I'm the classic example--show me the 100 degree eyepiece that is superior to TeleVue and I'll buy it, even if it costs twice what TeleVue costs.
Second, clearly the approach hasn't worked so well for them. ES is a vicious competitor. Each sale made by ES is a sale lost by Televue or pretty nearly. From an economic perspective, failing to exclude ES from the 100-degree game is something of a disaster IMO.
Good luck with that. I worked for over 30 years in an industry rife with patent and trademark violations, yet not one case in 100 actually went as far as a seizure of product, let alone a litigation. Why? Because the profit margin wasn't high enough to support a suit. And here's the kicker: the margin in that business was 2.5-3X as high as the astronomy business.
With respect to enforcing a patent against a Chinese company, it's no harder than enforcing a patent against an American company, frankly, so long as that Chinese company depends on the US and treaty-partner markets for selling the infringing article. It doesn't take seizure and destruction of too many shipping containers full of costly-to-make optics to make infringement unattractive economically. If you hold a patent, you are not "defending". You are enforcing it. The guy you're suing is defending. The US has jurisdiction over ES and JOC because ES is based here and JOC is doing substantial business and therefore has substantial contacts with the US. The benefit of a patent really isn't collection of money damages but rather the ability to exclude a competitor from prime markets.
Perhaps. More likely, the ability to reverse-engineer an exact copy would have been easier if the patent design and materials list had been published. And the cost of gaining a patent is very high, now. I just tried to trademark my company's name and the costs were more than I could afford. And patents are WAY more expensive because they involve
Again, it's just as likely that Televue didn't obtain an Ethos patent because it couldn't (i.e., the invention was not sufficiently innovative over past designs to warrant a patent) as it is likely that they had worries about being able to effectively use it to exclude aggressive competition.
lots of search and investigation time. And if you KNOW something will be quickly copied, but you think the market for the product is smallish, you'll try to get to market first and get the lion's share of the sales before the copies appear. And perhaps that philosophy has some validity, given that 5 of the focal lengths have yet to be copied, and one of the competitor's products had its price cut in half.