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Robotic Vision Systems, Inc. Says it May Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

OMRON Automation - Americas

CANTON, MASSACHUSETTS - May 15, 2001 - Robotic Vision Systems, Inc. (RVSI) (NASDAQ: ROBV) said today it is contemplating a further appeal of its long-running patent infringement suit against GSI Lumonics, Inc. (NASDAQ: GSLI).  The announcement is in response to a three-judge federal appeals court decision finding one of the three claims in RVSI's patent to be invalid.

'This case is one of the first decisions from the appeals court trying to interpret the recent U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in this area of patent  law,' said RVSI Chairman and CEO Pat V. Costa.  'We believe that the appellate court decision, if allowed to stand unchallenged, will harm high technology and other intellectual-property-sensitive industries because it will require extreme measures to ensure that your opportunity to acquire patent rights hasn't expired.'

In the litigation, RVSI charged that a company subsequently acquired by GSLI, View Engineering, willfully infringed on one of RVSI's patents for inspecting integrated circuits.  View Engineering agreed to exit the field as part of the settlement of a separate lawsuit between the two companies brought by RVSI.   In the suit RVSI seeks to reinstate, RVSI is seeking damages of more than $50 million for the willful infringement.

'The U.S. Supreme Court in its Pfaff decision (Pfaff v. Wells, 1998) was attempting to provide a 'bright line' test for determining when a patent application had to be filed once there was any commercial activity relating to a product incorporating the invention,' Mr. Costa said.  'In our opinion, this appellate court has blurred the line and created confusion by determining that even a simple disclosure of a concept between co-workers could trigger the statutory time period in which to file a patent application.

'We believe strenuously that this goes well beyond the Supreme Court's intent to clarify the law and will have the effect of stifling communications between engineers and scientists within a company and between companies and their sales representatives.  It tilts what has historically been a level playing field between corporations and solitary inventors squarely in favor of the solitary inventor.'

A press release issued Monday afternoon by GSI Lumonics erroneously states that RVSI's patent has been found to be invalid.  In fact, only one of the patent's three claims (the one involved in the lawsuit) has been found to be invalid.

About RVSI
Robotic Vision Systems, Inc. (RVSI) (NASDAQ:ROBV) has the most comprehensive line of machine vision systems available today. Headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts, with offices worldwide, RVSI is the world leader in vision-based semiconductor inspection and media transfer equipment. Using leading-edge technology, RVSI joins vision-enabled process equipment, high-performance optics, lighting, and advanced hardware and software to assure product quality, identify and track parts, control manufacturing processes, and ultimately enhance profits for companies worldwide. Currently serving the semiconductor, electronics, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical and packaging industries, RVSI holds approximately 100 patents in a broad range of technologies.

Additional information for shareholders
Except for the historical information herein, certain matters discussed in this release include forward-looking statements that may involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results may vary significantly based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: the historical cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry, risks in products and technology development, market acceptance of new products and continuing product demand, the impact of competitive products and pricing, changing economic conditions, both here and abroad, timely development and release of new products, strategic suppliers and customers, the effect of the company's accounting policies and other risk factors detailed in the Company's most recent registration statement, annual report on Form 10-K and 10K/A, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


For further information contact:
Neal H. Sanders (781) 302-2439 x2417

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