A patent recently issued to a major motor company has apparently created quite a stir among some of its competitors, who are scurrying to check for examples of prior art (previous inventions or designs). Though there appears to be nothing earth-shaking in the patent, clearly there is some dimension of it that troubles other motor makers. The simple answer is that there's a lot at stake here. Motors are a huge business, and companies may simply be scrambling to cover their bases. On the other hand, it's also true that patents increasingly have become a focus of competitive effort, proliferating in number and forcing companies to be more cautious about how they interpret them. That's particularly true in the motion control industry, where there are several examples of vigorous defense of patents. Most recently: Animatics' heavily publicized lawsuit against QuickSilver Controls for infringement against its patent for an integrated dc servo motor and controller. In January. The court ruled in favor of Animatics.