Just Who Owns Six Sigma, Anyway?
The question of "Who owns Six Sigma, anyway?" may make its way to
court. One Six Sigma consultant has already fired legal warning shots at at least two other consulting companies.
Recently, Mikel Harry of the Six Sigma Academy contacted
Forrest Breyfogle III, president of Smarter Solutions Inc. and author of Implementing Six Sigma
(John Wiley & Sons, 1999), and Thomas Pyzdek, president of the International Quality Federation (IQF) and Quality Digest
columnist, and warned them of their "unauthorized use of federally registered trademarks and service marks licensed to Sigma Consultants L.L.C." Harry requested that the recipients contact his lawyer to request permission for continued use of the terms.
At question were the terms "Champion," "Master Black Belt," "Black Belt," "Green Belt," "Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy," "MAIC," "PTAR" and others--many of which are
commonly used to describe the products and services provided by the IQF, Smarter Solutions Inc. and scores of other quality consultants, authors and universities. Attached to the letters were
lists of these terms under the heading "Trademarks and Service Marks."
"I don't see that Mikel Harry's organization can be the rightful owner of words such as Black Belt, Green
Belt and Champion," says Breyfogle. "I know that Motorola used these terms both before Mr. Harry's service mark application date of January 1998 and Mr. Harry's claimed first use dates in his
service mark applications of September 1994."
Indeed, Breyfogle provided Quality Digest
with a copy of a Black Belt Certification Award signed by A.W. Wiggenhorn, president of Motorola University, and Harry, then corporate director of Motorola's Six Sigma Research Institute. The award was dated Sept. 25, 1992. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Six Sigma is a registered trademark of Motorola (Serial Number: 74199225, Registration Number: 1813630). A PTO publication states, "Generally, the first party who either uses a mark in commerce or files an application in the PTO has the ultimate right to register that mark."
"Motorola adopted Six Sigma to designate a quality standard more than a decade ago, and the term has become exclusively associated with Motorola's teachings in the quality
area," says Wiggenhorn.
"The alleged service marks are in widespread use in the quality field, with many examples pre-dating Harry's applications," agrees Pyzdek. "Harry's
applications for registration had not even been approved when he sent these letters."
Harry's application for one of the terms, Master Black Belt, has since been approved for
publication in the PTO's Official Gazette. "During this stage, people have a right to submit a letter of opposition to the applicant being granted the trademarks or service marks in question,"
explains James W. Zeeb, Pyzdek's attorney. "Those are submitted, and then the examiner will make a determination about whether the registration should be granted."
organization and many others continue to use the terms. Moreover, Pyzdek is considering filing objections with the PTO.
"We believe these terms are generic and define an entire
category of services," explains Zeeb. "So they're not subject to anyone grabbing the exclusive rights to them. Likewise, descriptive terms are not protectable as trademarks."
Breyfogle adds: "I believe that Mr. Harry's actions relative to these service marks are not beneficial to companies that are planning to implement Six Sigma and the quality movement in
general. Mr. Harry and his organization should not attempt to create a Six Sigma monopoly."
To follow this issue, call the PTO at (703) 305-8716 or visit
Mikel Harry and his attorney failed to respond to Quality Digest's repeated requests for comments on this
Court Decides Vision Systems
Patent Infringement Claim
Inc., a subsidiary of GSI Lumonics Inc., recently announced that a decision in its favor has been made in a lawsuit brought by Robotic Vision Systems Inc. (RVSI). Originally RVSI had been seeking
$65 million in damages plus interest, alleging patent infringement related to its semiconductor inspection products. View Engineering prevailed on eight of the alleged nine infringed-upon
patents. No damages were awarded for the patent issue in which RVSI prevailed.
"This decision will be appealed and, in the end, we fully expect to recover the damages we are
owed," says Pat V. Costa, RVSI chairman and CEO. "An earlier decision in this case by the same judge was reversed by an appellate court."
"The court decision does not change
the fact that GSI Lumonics has withdrawn from the semiconductor inspection market for a period of 10 years as a result of the settlement of an earlier fraud suit brought by RVSI," Costa added.
Developments in this case are posted on both of the companies' Web sites: www.gsilumonics.com and www.rvsi.com .
Clarification: ISO/TS 16949 Registrars
Our story "ISO/TS 16949 Registrars Selected," which appeared in last month's News Digest section, may have caused some confusion.
The story focused on the 10 registrars based in North America that have been accredited to register companies to ISO/TS 16949. However, there are also some ISO/TS 16949-accredited registrars
based outside the United States with U.S. offices and clients. What follows is the complete list of accredited registrars. Quality Digest
apologizes for any confusion that the story may have caused.
ABS Quality Evaluations--United States
American Quality Assessors--United States
AQSR International--United States
Asociación española de normalización y certificación--Spain
Association française pour l'assurance de la Qualité--France
Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Certification--United States
Deutsche Gesellschaft zür Zertifizierung von
Managementsystemen -- Germany
ITS/INTERTEK Services Corp.--United States
Japan Quality Assurance Organization--Japan
Korean Standards Association Quality Assurance--Korea
Österreichische Vereingung für Qualitat-und Managementsystemen--Austria
Quality Assurance Svcs. Pty. Ltd.--Australia
Quality Management Institute--Canada
SGS-ICS Gesellschaft zür Zertifizierungen--Germany
Smithers Quality Assessments--United States
Steel Related Industries--United States
South African Bureau of Standards--South Africa
TÜV Management Service--Germany
Union technique de l'automobile, du motocycle et du cycle--France
Underwriter's Laboratories--United States
Vehicle Certification Agency--United Kingdom
Remember, some of the registrars based outside of North America may have U.S. offices. Check with your registrar to see if it's ISO/TS 16949-accredited.
Navy's Bureau of Medicine Earns ISO 9001 Registration
The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the headquarters command for the U.S. Navy medical department, has
become the first of its kind in the United States to be registered to ISO 9001.
BUMED is the headquarters for a health care system that provides
high-quality, economical health care to nearly 2.6 million active duty Navy and Marine Corps members, their families and retirees. The Navy's health care
costs remain only slightly above the national per capita average while still actively supporting contingency, humanitarian and joint operations around the world.
"This certification marks the culmination of two-and-a-half years of intense research, planning and development in establishing quality management
processes," says Rear Admiral S. Todd Fisher, deputy surgeon general of the Navy.
ISO 9001 encompasses BUMED's guiding principles, which include
communicating effectively with customers, improving process quality and system quality to ensure that functions are effectively accomplished in support
of all customers, and caring about one another as much as they care for their patients. "This is the basis of the teamwork and trust that must exist for us to
succeed," explains Fisher. "We encourage creative thinking and innovative solutions and foster an environment in which solutions are matched to customer needs."
For more information, contact Captain Ryland Dodge by telephone at (202) 762-3218, by fax at (202) 762-3224 or by e-mail at
Student Quality Circles Go International
uality Circles are springing up with unexpected members in unexpected places--teenage students in India, for
The most recent student quality circle conference, the second in the past three years, took place in Lucknow, India. The title, "International Convention of
Student Quality Control Circles," may have been an understatement: 77 Indian and 25 foreign schools participated. Also participating were speakers from
around the globe. Represented nations included the United States, England, Japan, Germany, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria and Nepal.
The CMS School in Lucknow hosted the event. CMS, whose 17 campuses are attended by more than 23,000 students, is the world's largest single-city
private school. Jagdish Gandhi, its founder, visited Japan in the 1990s and returned inspired by several aspects of the Japanese commitment to quality and
quality circles in particular. Gandhi was determined to introduce quality principles into the education system.
Vineeta Kamran, the principal of one of CMS' larger cam-puses, helped make that goal a reality with the help of P.C. Bihari, a mechanical engineer with
Indian National Railroads. In 1994, their pilot circle, made up of 12- and 13-year-old students, presented its project at an international quality conference held in Hong Kong.
The third conference in this series will take place on the island nation Mauritius. The event for circles from business and commerce will be held on
July 2628, and the conference for student circles will take place July 2425. Contact Andre Lim, the event organizer, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or visit QCI International's Web site at www.qci-intl.com .
Acquisition Rumors Cause Confusion
Don't believe what you hear until you see it in print--that's what James Wilson used to do. That was until he read in an industry newsletter that
his company, ABS Quality Evaluations (ABS QE), was being acquired by a competitor.
"The basic story was that ABS QE had been acquired by BVQI," explains
Wilson, president of ABS QE. "The article included many things that were just not factual at all. It reported not only that ABS QE had been acquired, but that
there were rumors that the entire group was for sale. Those claims were without any kind of factual basis at all."
ABS has, however, been involved in several acquisitions recently. "We have acquired four separate companies in the last 18 months," says Wilson, who
admits that ABS QE is in constant contact with competitors. "On a regular basis I get calls from many of our friendly competitors, and we call them on a
regular basis. We're always talking about the ongoing business that we're involved with, how it's affecting us and so on. There are relatively few
registration or certification firms that we have not talked to in one way or another."
Despite ongoing talks with competitors, Wilson denies rumors of a merger.
"There are absolutely zero negotiations, discussions or any kind of talks of that nature going on at this time," he says. "There's nothing going on, and that's
why it's so odd to us that these rumors are going around now."
Other rumors that ABS QE had been acquired by SGS, not BVQI, only
added to the confusion suffered by ABS employees and clients. To mitigate the effects of such rumors, Wilson recently sent letters to all of ABS QE's U.S.
clients, stating: "I am concerned that recent market rumors surrounding the future of ABS QE may have created some uncertainty within the industry that
might affect our continuing relationship. I want to reassure you that ABS QE has no intention of leaving the certification business."
Both SGS and BVQI confirmed that the rumors were false and that they had created quite a nuisance.
Wilson urges any current or potential clients concerned about the future of ABS QE to contact him by e-mail at email@example.com
or by telephone at (281) 877-6098.
Getting to one of Excel Partnership's many training courses may now be of
little concern to those with Internet access. Excel has launched a new Web-based course, "An Introduction to the New ISO 9001:2000 Standard,"
which will be delivered right to the user's desktop with real-time interactivity and instructor-led training. A complete list of 2000 dates for the course
(divided into two two-hour modules held on consecutive days) is available at Excel's Web site.
Sony Precision Technology America has released its new "Super Site." The
complete online resource offers visitors the most current information on instrumentation and machine tool measuring equipment. Also posted are
updated news item, industry links, product technologies, capabilities and applications. Additionally, visitors can submit requests for product
specifications, contact information and current trade show schedules.
The Rockwell Software WebStore features more than 800 Rockwell Software
products, providing customers with a single point of contact and the freedom to manage their orders. The site recently expanded, adding products and services
from Rockwell Automation and its Allen-Bradley, Reliance Electric and Dodge brands. This site constitutes the first phase of the company's customer e-business solutions initiative.
SkillsVillage.com is an Internet-based community where contractors (Contractor Villagers) and enterprise hiring managers (Client Villagers) can find
their ultimate match at the maximum value. In addition, both contractors and enterprise hiring managers can handle many of their administrative tasks
automatically through online workforce tools and support services. SkillsVillage.com is also a place where professionals can participate in
discussions with their colleagues to exchange ideas, gather information and get answers to questions.
Bill Scherkenbach's Quality Management Consulting Web site is filled with free
downloads useful to any quality or management professional. An extensive bibliography, which was previously only on his Breakthrough Performance
CD-ROM, is now online. The site will guide you through a host of seminars, CDs, and other e-quality items such as its Quarterly Quality Checkup.
To submit your Web site for consideration, e-mail a description of its content to contact_us
. Because of space constraints, not all Web sites can be published. More quality-related links are available at www.qualitydigest.com
ISO 9002-registered Inspec Inc., which provides CMM, optical and laser
measurement services, is tripling the size of its environmentally controlled laboratory in Canton, Michigan. Inspec offers state-of-the-art equipment and
technology including surface finish, roundness, vision systems, CMMs and reverse engineering while providing 24-hour field service and in-house contract inspection. Visit www.inspec-inc.com .
GenRad Inc. recently announced that it has acquired California-based Nicolet Imaging Systems and its sister company, Sierra Research and Technology Inc.,
for a combined purchase price of $40 million. GenRad Inc. provides electronics OEMs and their customers with the hardware, software and
services to increase productivity by optimizing product design, manufacturing and after-market service.
Rockwell Automation has announced that it is expanding its asset-management capabilities by acquiring Entek IRD International Corp. This transaction adds
the Entek and IRD brands of condition-based monitoring equipment, analysis software, professional services and Internet services for the maintenance,
repair and operations marketplace to Rockwell's portfolio of asset management services. Rockwell's Web site is located at www.rockwellautomation.com
The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) has released a new guidebook of best practices in knowledge management. Knowledge Management
is the first of several books to be released as part of APQC's Passport to Success series. The book is available for $19.95 through APQC's online bookstore, located at www.store.apqc.org .
Prescient Technologies Inc. has announced that Boeing has selected Prescient Technologies' DesignQA software as the dataset checker system for its Puget
Sound-area tool-engineering organizations. DesignQA, a key component of the PrescientQA family of engineering quality tools, is used by Fortune 100
companies in aerospace, automotive, electronics and other discrete manufacturing industries for detecting, assessing, correcting and preventing
product development problems caused by inaccurate, incomplete or inconsistent design modeling practices. www.prescienttech.com .
Envirotronics (a manufacturer of environmental test equipment) and Entela Inc.
(engineering and test laboratories) have formed a strategic alliance. The two companies will cooperate in the marketing of each other's test systems and
both participate in a series of "Accelerated Test Methods" seminars across the country. Envirotronics and Entela acknowledge that they both recognize the
strength of each other's new developments in accelerated stress testing. Visit www.envirotronics.com and www.entela.com .
Call for Papers
The Technical Program Committee of the American Society for Quality is now accepting proposals for its 55th Annual Quality Congress to be held May 79,
2001, at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina. The deadline to submit proposals is July 31, 2000. For suggested proposal topics and general review criteria for your proposal, visit www.asq.org/products/conferences/55thaqccall/ .
To have your news item considered for publication in Quality Digest's "At a Glance" section, e-mail press releases to contact_us .