12 April 2017
Seoul Semiconductor files LED patent infringement lawsuit in Germany against Mouser
On 31 March, South Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd (SSC) filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Germany in the District Court of Düsseldorf against global electronic component distributor Mouser Electronics Inc asserting infringement of an LED patent.
According to the complaint, the accused products include LEDs for high-power light emission. Further investigation suggests that they are manufactured by multiple LED companies, including Everlight Electronics Co Ltd, a global top-10 LED maker. Seoul has sought a permanent injunction, damages, and recall and destruction of the allegedly infringing products.
The asserted patented technology serves to efficiently extract light emitted from the internal LED structure by treating LED chip surfaces, improving light intensity and brightness. This patented technology has been widely used for various high-power LED applications, such as automobile lighting, cell-phone flashlights, outdoor lighting, UV LED appliances, etc.
According to market research firm IHS, the LED penetration rate in automobile headlamps will rise sharply from the existing penetration rate of 16.4% to 32.3 % by 2021. This high-power LED technology is already being used for exterior automobile lighting, including headlights and daytime running lights. Furthermore, it is expected to become a significant technology for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, which require high-power LED lighting with high heat dissipation for energy efficiency.
In addition, this high-power LED technology also applies to LEDs for mobile phone flashlights, which require higher light intensity. Because margins for flashlight LEDs are higher than those for backlights, the flashlight LED market has still grown steadily despite the overall decline in the IT sector LED market.
Further, the high-power LED technology is widely applicable to general lighting products for outdoor illumination and commercial or industrial use because such technology substantially enhances light efficiency and improves the brightness per unit area obtained from the LED. The technology is also widely used in manufacturing ultraviolet (UV) LEDs for sterilization, purification and curing processes. The UV LED application market is expected to grow rapidly, reaching $800m by 2020.
Beginning with this lawsuit, Seoul says that it plans to actively defend its patent assets against infringing high-power LED technologies. It has already identified infringements of other patents that it possesses related to high-power LEDs and will be considering additional infringement lawsuits.
“The asserted patent is considered an essential technology for manufacturing high-power LEDs and has been widely used in various LED applications,” says Ki-bum Nam, VP of Seoul Semiconductor’s Lighting Business Department. “However, there are many LED products currently on the market that infringe this patented technology, so we have decided to begin enforcing our patent rights in such cases,” he adds. “To create a fair market competition and promote technological innovation, we continuously take any and all actions necessary to deter such infringement and protect our intellectual property.”