November 21, 2003
GE and Lazare Kaplan Will Receive Patent for HPHT
General Electric Co. and Lazare Kaplan International expect to be granted a U.S. patent for their high-pressure/high-temperature treatment to produce colorless and fancy colored diamonds, according to a press release. The two companies received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Trademark & Patent Office regarding the patent application for the HPHT process, a precursor to securing the patent. Other patent applications filed outside of the U.S. are pending.
The Notice of Allowance covers applications for the Bellataire® brand of HPHT treated diamonds, marketed through the Bellataire division of LKI. The companies say the patent will give them intellectual property protection for "key aspects" of their HPHT technology until 2017 or later.
"We are very pleased to receive the notice of allowance and are exploring several patent enforcement options involving government agencies and gem laboratories in order to best protect our intellectual property," says Dave Bennett, general manager of GE Gem Technologies.
In March 1999, LKI stunned the diamond industry when it announced a treatment that improved color grade and brightness in certain diamonds. Later it became known that GE researchers discovered the treatment could take place in a small population of natural diamonds known as Type IIa. At the time, gemologists could not identify the treated stones. Since then, research has shown many of the stones are identifiable. Companies such as Bellataire inscribe each diamond girdle with their brand names, which also serve as identifiers. Since HPHT technology was introduced into the market, researchers found other diamond types are also treatable using HPHT methods, including natural diamonds in which existing diamond colors are changed or new fancy colors are created.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.