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Block Sought on Imports

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NEW YORK, March 20, 2008 -- A retired Columbia University professor alleges that 34 major electronics manufacturers in Asia and Europe are infringing her patent for LEDs and laser diodes and she wants to block them from importing a wide array of consumer electronics products.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said today it will hear a case filed by Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, Howe Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia, that alleges that the companies have violated her patent in products such as video players using Sony's Blu-ray format, Motorola Razr cell phones and Hitachi camcorders. Rothschild wants to block companies such as LG Electronics, Nokia, Pioneer, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp Electronics, Sony Ericsson Mobile and Toshiba from importing such products into the US.

Rothschild, who is the sole owner of the patent, conducted research in the 1980s and 1990s into the electrical and optical properties of wide-bandgap semiconductors that has proven pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue and violet) laser diodes now widely used in consumer electronics.

She was issued a US patent in 1993 that covers a method of producing wide-bandgap semiconductors for LEDs and laser diodes in the blue/ultraviolet bands of the spectrum. Such LEDs and laser diodes have become increasingly popular as a lighting source in a variety of devices because they use less power, are more reliable, last longer and have a greater storage capacity. They can be found in traffic lights, billboards, instrument panels and data storage devices.

The portion of her work at issue in the ITC case focuses on using gallium nitride (GaN) -based semiconductor material in LEDs and laser diodes, said the law firm representing her, Dreier LLP, in a statement today. GaN material currently provides the only efficient commercial blue light emitters, and the total market for all types of GaN devices has been forecast at $7.2 billion for 2009.

"Dr. Rothschild made a seminal breakthrough in the production of the blue and ultraviolet LEDs that are essential to a wide variety of consumer electronics products today," said Albert Jacobs Jr., one of the Dreier intellectual property attorneys representing Rothschild, in the statement. "She richly deserves both scientific as well as commercial recognition for her work."

Rothschild began her research career with Sylvania Research Laboratories in Bayside, N.Y., in the 1950s, and later at Philips Laboratories in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. She joined the faculty at Columbia as a professor of Materials Science in 1985. She has published approximately 90 research articles and given 28 invited talks since 1980. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982 and recognized by the society as a Notable Woman Physicist in 1998.

Earlier this month Rothschild settled a patent infringement case filed in June 2005 against Philips Lumileds; terms were undisclosed. She has also settled cases against Nichia Corp., Osram GmbH, and Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd.

The ITC said administrative law judge Paul J. Luckern will hold an evidentiary hearing to make an initial determination on the case.

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Mar 2008
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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