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  • LED makers wage patent war

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2011

REGENSBURG, Germany, and SUWON, South Korea – LED makers are going head to head over alleged patent infringement this summer.

First, lighting manufacturer Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH filed LED patent infringement lawsuits against two Korea-based LED makers and consumer electronics companies, Samsung and LG.

Then Samsung LED Co. Ltd. promptly filed a countersuit against Osram Korea Co. Ltd. and two Korean sales agents, claiming patent infringement and requesting an injunction from unauthorized use of Samsung LED’s intellectual property as well as monetary damages.

Osram said it filed legal actions against Samsung and LG group companies in the US and Germany as well as against an LG group company in Japan. The company claims that Samsung and LG have infringed its patents on white LEDs and surface-mountable LEDs in the US, Germany and, as far as LG is concerned, in Japan and China. The legal actions focus on LEDs using technologies protected by Osram patents, the company claims. These technologies relate to electrical and thermal connection structures as well as to the phosphor-based conversion technology used to make white LEDs.

Osram Opto Semiconductors recently released the Duris E3 family of LEDs; the small size and wide beam angle make the devices suitable for applications requiring uniform illumination. Osram recently filed suit against Samsung and LG for alleged copyright infringement.

White LEDs are used extensively for display backlighting for TV sets and monitors, both of which are product categories that also are manufactured by Samsung and LG. A number of LED makers have signed royalty-bearing licenses to use Osram’s patents on conversion technology. “Major competitors such as Philips/Lumileds, Cree and Nichia have acknowledged our strong IP position by entering into cross-license agreements with Osram,” said Aldo Kamper, CEO of Osram.

The company seeks orders from the courts to prevent Samsung and LG from importing and selling infringing LEDs or products containing these LEDs, such as LED-backlit TV sets and computer monitors. In addition, it has applied for compensation. Osram indicated that it also intends to file a suit against LG in China.

Samsung’s lawsuit against Osram and its Korean sales agents, Barun Electronics and Dabo Industrial Systems, is in response to Osram’s claims. The eight patents in that suit relate to LED chip and package technology used in LED light lenses and high-power applications, which have found widespread use in LED headlights and other lighting devices.

Samsung LED said that it has made considerable investments to develop LED technology, resulting in about 700 US patents and patent applications and about 2000 Korean patents and patent applications.

“We are developing evidence to show that Samsung LED is not infringing any valid claim of Osram’s patents as well as evidence of Osram’s unauthorized use of our patents,” said Jun Sung Park, vice president and head of the IP and legal affairs team at Samsung LED. “We are evaluating every contingency and will vigorously defend our technology.”

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