In wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) fiber-optic communication systems, a single optical fiber can carry multiple optical signals, each having its own unique wavelength. Such optical systems generally include optical add-drop multiplexers (OADMs) or wavelength selective switches (WSSs) that manipulate the multiple signals based on their wavelengths to separate out selected signals from the optical fiber or to join selected signals to the optical fiber. Also, dynamic gain equalizers (DGEs) are used to level out the power levels of the multiple signals being transmitted by the optical fiber. The ’722 patent discloses a packaged optical system containing multiple WDM devices that share one or more optical elements to provide ”a reduced per-channel manufacturing cost and an improved mean time between failures over individual optical switching devices.”
According to the company’s website, Oclaro was formed in 2009 by the merger of Bookham, Inc. and Avanex Corp. In its 2010 Annual Report, Oclaro states that the company has “750 U.S. patents and 293 non-U.S. patents” and that its “IP base represents significant investment in the optical industry over the past 20 years.” A check of the USPTO database shows that the company received 22 U.S. patents in 2010, and three so far in 2011, including the ’722 patent.