Press Release

Carl Zeiss Meditec AG Reaches Favorable Legal Settlement with Topcon

1 February 2024
  • Landmark legal settlement protects customers, patients and the company’s extensive digital innovation in ophthalmology
  • The settlement includes undisclosed financial payment to Carl Zeiss Meditec as well as other penalties for Topcon’s role in trade secret theft and misappropriation

Dublin, CA | February 1, 2024 | Carl Zeiss Meditec AG

Carl Zeiss Meditec AG announced today that it has reached a favorable resolution with Topcon to settle its lawsuit against the Japanese company’s U.S.-based subsidiaries that had been pending in U.S. federal court for the Northern District of California. The settlement reinforces the protection of ZEISS’s trade secrets and restores a level playing field for fair competition. The lawsuit asserted that Topcon had illicitly obtained stolen ZEISS files that included highly confidential information. Previously, the court had issued a preliminary injunction against Topcon, and more recently denied Topcon’s motion for summary judgment on ZEISS’s claims of trade secret misappropriation. Jury trial had been set to begin in February 2024.

As part of the settlement, Topcon agreed to several major concessions, including to:

  • pay a substantial undisclosed financial award to Carl Zeiss Meditec AG’s U.S. subsidiary within 30 days;
  • destroy and not use any stolen ZEISS information within Topcon and by its external developers;
  • return a ZEISS CIRRUS device and related software that was improperly procured and wrongfully used by Topcon;
  • destroy all copies of source code for Topcon’s HFA Extractor and DICOM Decoder software applications, which were developed using information stolen from ZEISS; and
  • remove DICOM Decoder from customers worldwide who have versions of Topcon’s Harmony with that feature.

Additional terms of the legal settlement place a permanent ban on using the source code for Topcon’s HFA Extractor or DICOM Decoder to develop similar products, and a two-year worldwide ban on Topcon regarding the future development or release of any features that are equivalent to its HFA Extractor or DICOM Decoder offerings. Furthermore, Topcon agreed to an additional consecutive two-year worldwide ban on the development of such features by any employee or consultant involved in this case, or by reverse engineering using ZEISS proprietary data. The court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for a period of five years.

“We have invested heavily over the years to earn our strong market position in ophthalmology and leadership in digital innovation,” said Euan S. Thomson, Ph.D., CEO of Carl Zeiss Meditec Inc. “Developing market-shaping healthcare innovations to improve patients’ lives is what we do at Carl Zeiss Meditec; it’s in our DNA. And we cannot tolerate theft of our technologies of any kind.”

“In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to safeguard our trade secrets and other sensitive business information in order to protect our customers and their patients worldwide,” said Aaron Kim, General Counsel for Carl Zeiss Meditec Inc. “We’re pleased with the outcome of this case as it addresses Topcon’s illicit activities of the past, and serves to preserve these new protections going forward in the years ahead.”

According to the lawsuit filed by Carl Zeiss Meditec AG’s U.S. subsidiary, beginning in 2018 Topcon illegally obtained stolen ZEISS files. The lawsuit also described Topcon’s efforts to compete with ZEISS by improperly obtaining and using ZEISS medical equipment and software licenses to develop products.

The settlement is effective as of January 9, 2024. The case is Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. v. Topcon Medical Systems, Inc., Topcon Healthcare Solutions, Inc., et al., United States District Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division (case no. 19-cv-04162-YRG).

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Head of Group Finance and Investor Relations
Carl Zeiss Meditec AG


Head of Global Communications
Carl Zeiss Meditec AG

Brief profile

Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (ISIN: DE0005313704), which is listed on the MDAX and TecDAX of the German stock exchange, is one of the world's leading medical technology companies. The Company supplies innovative technologies and application-oriented solutions designed to help doctors improve the quality of life of their patients. The Company offers complete solutions, including implants and consumables, to diagnose and treat eye diseases. The Company creates innovative visualization solutions in the field of microsurgery. With approximately 4,823 employees worldwide, the Group generated revenue of €2,089.3m in fiscal year 2022/23 (to 30 September).

The Group’s head office is located in Jena, Germany, and it has subsidiaries in Germany and abroad; more than 50 percent of its employees are based in the USA, Japan, Spain and France. The Center for Application and Research (CARIn) in Bangalore, India and the Carl Zeiss Innovations Center for Research and Development in Shanghai, China, strengthen the Company's presence in these rapidly developing economies. Around 41 percent of Carl Zeiss Meditec AG’s shares are in free float. The remaining approx. 59 percent are held by Carl Zeiss AG, one of the world’s leading groups in the optical and optoelectronic industries.

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Press Photos

  • The ZEISS Innovation Center in Dublin

    The ZEISS Innovation Center in Dublin, California, USA is located in one of the world's leading innovation centers. The SMT business unit PCS is also housed here.

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