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11 August 2008


Rothschild considers adding firms to ITC LED patent case

Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, professor emerita of Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia University, is considering including additional firms in her patent infringement lawsuit at the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

Rothschild filed the complaint (‘In the matter of Short-Wave Light Emitting Diodes’) on 19 February, alleging infringement by 31 firms of US patent 5,252,499 (issued in 1993, covering a method of producing wide-bandgap semiconductors for LEDs and laser diodes emitting in the blue, green, violet and ultraviolet end of the spectrum). The ITC instituted an investigation on 20 March.

Rothschild began her research career in private industry, working with Sylvania Research Laboratories in Bayside, NY in the 1950s and later at Philips Laboratories in Briarcliff Manor, NY before joining Columbia as a professor of materials science in 1985. She conducted research in the 1980s and ’90s into the electrical and optical properties of wide-bandgap semiconductors that is claimed to have been pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue, green, violet and ultraviolet) diodes now used in consumer electronics. While Rothschild’s patent is not limited to gallium nitride-based material in LEDs and laser diodes, the total market for all types of GaN devices alone has been forecast at $7.2bn for 2009.

The lawsuit seeks to bar importation into the USA of a wide range of consumer electronics products incorporating infringing LED and laser diode devices. These include video players using Sony Corp’s Blu-ray format, Motorola Razr mobile phones and Hitachi digital camcorders, as well as instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights and data storage devices. Other firms cited include Blu-ray DVD player makers Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (Panasonic), LG Electronics Inc and Samsung Group and HD DVD player manufacturer Toshiba Corp, as well as Nokia Corp, Sony Ericsson Mobile, Pioneer, Sanyo Electric Co Ltd, and Sharp Electronics.

Rothschild has already reached licensing deals with 13 firms, including Sony, Sanyo, Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd, LG Electronics, Lucky Light Electronics Co Ltd, Everlight Electronics Co Ltd, Samsung Electro-Mechanical, Seiwa Electric Mfg Co Ltd, Shenzhen Unilight Electronic Co Ltd, Guangzhou Hongli Opto-Electronic Co Ltd, Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and Lite-On Inc.

In addition, several firms that were not named in the ITC case have expressed interest in reaching licensing agreements. “We have been asked to review which other companies should be added to the ITC action,” say Dreier LLP intellectual property partners Albert L. Jacobs Jr and Daniel Ladow, representing Rothschild. “We have found several companies which we believe can and should be added,” continues Jacobs. “While doing that, we remain open to discussions, both with respondents and those not yet in the action.”

See related items:

Consumer electronics firms license Rothschild LED patents

Epistar licenses Rothschild LED patents

Seoul and Everlight settle ITC action brought by Rothschild

Seoul Semiconductor agrees license with Rothschild

ITC investigating blue LED/laser patent infringement case

Search: GaN LEDs Laser diodes Blue LEDs Ultraviolet LEDs Blue laser diodes Blu-ray DVD