The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida on March 20, 2000 · Page 73
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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida · Page 73

Orlando, Florida
Issue Date:
Monday, March 20, 2000
Page 73
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22 CFB March 20-26,2000 1 O , f J f i - v-. T I - . I? V A ' i ' I i 3 A f" V I . if i "" in. ..j- : f . i -- rf lf ' . : I . f Lab work. Engineer Hang Liu (left) and J.T. Lin work in the solid-state laser lab at SurgiLight Inc. The company is working on methods of correcting vision and skin problems with lasers. Company officials said clinical trials of the dermatological laser are under way in New York. Similar trials with the vision laser should begin shortly, they said. 'We are 2 to 3 years ahead of any of our possible competitors,' Lin said. 'It all depends on who gets Food & Drug Administration approval first. We've attracted a number of investors already, and many of them are eye doctors themselves.' ANGELA PETERSONTHE ORLANDO SENTINEL Laser entrepreneur seeks new beginning With a promising new company, J.T. Lin hopes to escape his past financial, legal woes By Richard Burnett OF THE SENTINEL STAFF J.T. Lin knows technology, but he also knows trouble. The .Orlando laser scientist and en-. trepreneur has created innovative surgical gadgets and reaped millions of dollars from enterprises in the laser industry during the past decade or so. But he has also run afoul of government regulators, who accused him of violating securities laws, fined him hundreds of thousands of dollars and seized some of his equipment because it lacked proper approval. During his years at LaserSight Inc., a company he founded in 1987, and Photon Data Inc., his second venture, Lin's work was marked by high-tech achievements but financial turmoil. Now, Lin says, let the past be the past, and let the future ride on his new company SurgiLight Inc., a publicly traded developer of vision-correction and cosmetic surgical lasers. "We have to learn from things in the past," Lin said. "In the past, I asked the lawyers if certain transactions were OK, and they said yes, so I followed what those people told rrie, That was my mis take, and you have to learn from mistakes." Supporters say Lin has turned the page on a new chapter and things are going to be better this time around. "I admit that, when I read all that about the problems Dr. Lin was having, it bothered me," said laser industry veteran Tim Shea, newly hired senior vice president of SurgiLight. But I did my homework, found out the truth, and now I have every confidence in J.T. that things are going to be done right here," he said. "Because of what happened in the past, we are going to extra lengths to make sure everything is done properly." But there are signs that Lin's troubles are not entirely over. Among them:' ongoing litigation against his former company, LaserSight; a patent-infringement claim against SurgiLight by a competitor; and questions about whether public filings for SurgiLight violate Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. Lin's suit against LaserSight is to recoup $1.2 million he says the company 01 owes him on a promissory note. Laser-Sight denies the allegations and is contesting the suit. The patent-infringement suit, filed just last week by Presby Corp. of Dallas, alleges SurgiLight violated Presby's patents on vision-correction technology. SurgiLight denies the claim and describes the suit as a ploy by a competitor to obtain proprietary technical information. Such suits are not surprising in the fiercely competitive surgical-laser industry, where everyone at one time or another seems to sue everyone else. But the SEC ques tions are more problematic for Lin. When he filed papers to make SurgiLight a publicly traded company in March 1999, he made no mention of his legal run-ins with regulators. Yet the SEC requires a company to disclose whether any officer or director has been the target of certain government civil actions or orders. In September 1998, the SEC announced that a civil securities fraud claim against Lin had been settled with a fine of $210,000 and a court injunction ordering him to refrain from committing securities fraud in the future. The SEC complaint alleged Lin improperly moved LaserSight money and stock into offshore accounts. Lin denied any wrongdoing in what he said was an accounting dispute related to loans and stock sales. SurgiLight officials said they do not think any regulations were violated by Lin's failure to disclose the SEC action, but they plan to consult their lawyers about the question. The SEC would not comment specifically about Lin. But a spokesman said the agency does typically require an official who has been subject to civil penalties to disclose that in future public filings. However, regulations do not prohibit such officials from holding leadership positions in future companies. Apart from the regulatory questions, most everyone in the laser industry agrees that, in his latest venture, Lin is taking aim at what could be one of the most lucrative areas of the eye-surgery market. SurgiLight claims to have developed an infrared laser treatment to correct presbyopia, a deterioration of near-vision, usually occurring in people ages 42

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