X-Ray Optical Systems settles suit with physicist

X-Ray Optical Systems has settled a federal lawsuit against a Russian physicist it accused of steali

X-Ray Optical Systems has settled a federal lawsuit against a Russian physicist it accused of stealing trade secrets regarding patented X-ray guiding technology he helped develop.

The East Greenbush X-ray material analysis equipment manufacturer on Monday settled its year-old suit in U.S. District Court against Muradin Kumakhov, a pioneer in the field of capillary optics.

The settlement promises to end the nearly two-decade-old dispute that dates back to the founding of XOS. Kumakhov, of Moscow, has agreed to relinquish his stake in and legal challenges against XOS, though it is not clear if he will receive any monetary compensation in return.

Kumakhov in July countersued XOS for $40 million in damages. He accused executives of reducing his stake and role in the company after he was tricked into signing over to XOS his right to and interest in certain patent applications in the early 1990s. The East Greenbush company filed those patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The federal case in Albany was one of at least three XOS attempts to use the courts prevent Kumakhov from eroding the legal coverage of its patents in Europe and the United States. A federal judge in Albany denied XOS’ motion for a permanent injunction against Kumakhov in a 1998 patent infringement suit.

XOS last year sued the Russian scientist for $10 million in damages, accusing him of improperly aiding a chief competitor in Germany. Since at least 2004, he has served as a director of Unisantis GmbH, a manufacturer of analytical and medical X-ray equipment.

“We are pleased to resolve this matter in a manner that is acceptable to all parties. … XOS is proud of its affiliation with Dr. Kumakhov and looks forward to putting past differences behind the parties so that XOS may focus on its underlying business,” XOS President David Gibson said in a statement.

In 1990, Kumakhov, Gibson and his father, Walter, used their polycapillary optics — made of bundles of small glass tubes — to launch XOS. The company has grown into a global provider of X-ray optics for material analysis systems, with customers including the military and petroleum-related companies. As of last year, it employed about 70.

Under the settlement agreement, Kumakhov will transfer his interest in XOS to the company. He will also withdraw all of his pending litigation and put “measures in place to limit future disputes between them,” according to an XOS statement.

Walter Gibson is the former University at Albany physics professor who with Kumakhov founded XOS in 1990, shortly after they met at a conference in the then-Soviet Union. Walter Gibson allegedly broached the idea to Kumakhov of forming a monocapillary optics company, half of which the Russian scientist would own.

But after Kumakhov signed a assignment for an X-ray beam controlling device in 1990, the Gibsons allegedly reduced his stake in the company from 49 percent to 18 percent. The Russian scientist accused Gibson of fraud and making material misstatements to get him to participate in the patenting process, according to the countersuit.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to settle my differences with XOS. I have conveyed my regrets for any past disagreements with XOS and wish them success in their future endeavors,” Kumakhov said in a statement.

In May 2007, the European Patent Office, at the encouragement of Kumakhov, revoked an XOS patent for a device that controls beams of X-rays and gamma rays. The manufacturer said in its suit that that non-appealable ruling destroyed the value of its patent and hurt its business.

Kumakhov has also challenged three XOS patents in the United States, and the Patent Office has issued final determinations diminishing legal coverage for at least two of them. XOS last year said it pursued the suit to protect one of its “most important assets”: intellectual property.

Attorneys for XOS and Kumakhov declined to comment beyond the statement they issued. David Gibson did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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