BetterThanDiamond.com has filed a
request with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, asking it to reexamine
Charles & Colvard’s patent for manufacturing “silicon carbide gemstones,”
better known as moissanite.
Research Triangle Park, N.C.–based Charles & Colvard is the
sole manufacturer of moissanite gemstones.
The filing asks the USPTO to review and consider the
validity of Charles & Colvard’s patent (5,723,391) in light of three “prior art” publications provided to the
USPTO by BetterThanDiamond.com. The
company argues that the UTPTO would not have granted the patent if the three prior
publications had been disclosed.
BetterThanDiamond, a Seattle-based lab-grown gem
manufacturer, claims it has had several breakthroughs in the manufacturing of
moissanite, but it has been prevented from combining its breakthroughs into a
single offering due to Charles &
“These breakthroughs include patent applications in progress
for a new Hearts and Arrows round cut, and the ability to atomically enhance
the colorlessness of all moissanite,” a company statement said. “The Mira
enhancement process is able to take a typical 1.5 ct. round from Charles &
Colvard, which grades K or ‘Faint Color’ on the diamond color scale, and
permanently transform it to H color, or true near colorless.”
Charles & Colvard immediately issued a statement in
response, denying BetterThanDiamond’s claims and saying it plans to “vigorously
defend” its patent if the USPTO grants the request.
“This reexam request is the result of a threat by
BetterThanDiamond.com’s owner against Charles & Colvard to attack our
patents if we did not agree to supply moissanite gemstones directly to
it,” said Charles & Colvard CEO Randy McCullough in the statement. “We chose not to partner with
BetterThanDiamond.com because we believe the process it uses to alter the color
of our gemstones is temporary and in the long term would lessen the durability
and value of moissanite in the marketplace.”
McCullough added that the company’s patent has never been
challenged since it was granted 13 years ago.
The patent may be reexamined only if the USPTO finds that the
information provided in the request raises “a substantial new question of
patentability,” Charles & Colvard notes. The process is expected to take
between three to six months.