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13 September 2016

Seoul Semiconductor sues retailer Kmart for patent infringement

South Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd (SSC), together with its affiliate company Seoul Viosys Co Ltd, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California against global retail firm Kmart Corp (which has about 1000 stores in the USA and annual revenue of $25bn).

Seoul Semiconductor asserts that Kmart is selling LED products that infringe eight patents covering fundamental LED technologies, including high-CRI (color rendering index) enhancement with phosphor combinations, LED epitaxial growth, LED chip fabrication, multi-chip mounting technology, omni-directional LED lamp technology, and Acrich MJT (multi-junction technology). The accused product includes an LED filament bulb that is gaining widespread consumer attention in the USA as a replacement for traditional incandescent bulbs.

One of the asserted patents was invented by professor Shuji Nakamura, recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to blue LED development. Another co-inventor is Dr Steven DenBaars, a professor of Materials and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Seoul Semiconductor says that it has continuously succeeded in patent enforcement actions since its case against Taiwan-based AOT Inc in 2003. Last year, the firm filed patent infringement actions against multiple North American TV makers, resulting in a judgment for infringement and/or payments for past damages. This year, Seoul Semiconductor won a unanimous jury verdict against Japanese LED lens maker Enplas, in which the jury held - and the US district court upheld - a finding that Enplas willfully infringed Seoul Semiconductor's patented technology and is liable for $4m. Seoul Viosys has also pursued active enforcement campaigns, resulting in a judgment for infringement as well as payments for past damages and a royalty-bearing license against a US-based UV LED curing device maker. Recently, Seoul Viosys filed another patent infringement lawsuit against a UV LED insect trap maker in the USA.

To protect its patented technology, Seoul Semiconductor has engaged the litigation and intellectual property firm Latham & Watkins, whose partner Larry Gotts was also lead counsel for Seoul Semiconductor's infringement lawsuit against Enplas (in which SSC succeeded in obtaining a willful infringement judgment).

"We have invested tremendous resources for environment-friendly technology innovation for 25 years, and as a result we have successfully commercialized various kinds of the first-developed technologies," says Ki-bum Nam, VP of the lighting business department at Seoul Semiconductor. "To create a fair market competition, we continuously take any and all actions necessary to deter such infringement and protect our intellectual property."

Tags: Seoul Semiconductor LEDs

Visit: www.SeoulSemicon.com

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