ITC ruling bars importation of Epistar AlGaInP LEDs

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has made a further ruling the patent case concerning AlGaInP-based LEDs, between Philips Lumileds and its Taiwan-based rival Epistar. The ruling follows previous determinations by the ITC – see ITC confirms Epistar infringement of Lumileds patents.

The ITC has now issued a Notice of Commission Decision stating that all of Epistar's OMA, MB, and GB LED products infringe the patent rights of Philips Lumileds. Specifically, these products were found to infringe two claims of Philips Lumileds' US patent no. 5,008,718.

The ruling also asserted that Philips Lumileds' patents no. 5,008,718, no. 5,376,580 and no. 5,502,316 are valid and enforceable, and that Epistar's OMA, MB, and GB products are not licensed under those patents. However, none of the products were found to infringe the '580 or '316 patents.

The ITC has also issued a Limited Exclusion Order, which will, if approved by the US President's office, prohibit importation into the USA of the infringing AlGaInP LEDs. Epistar says that order applies to LED chips, packaged lamps and boards primarily consisting of arrays of such packaged LEDs, but does not apply to completed downstream products that may include Epistar LEDs. Other Epistar LEDs are not affected.

The two companies have very different views on the outcome of the ITC case. Michael Holt, Philips Lumileds' CEO, said he was "satisfied" with the ITC's ruling. "Philips Lumileds will continue to enforce its intellectual property rights, and to lead the world in the development of solid-state lighting technology," he said.

Epistar's president BJ Lee was more forthright, saying that the company believes the ITC's ruling is neither factually or legally supportable. "Epistar believes that the ITC has interpreted these patents erroneously to grant exclusive rights to Lumileds to technology that it did not invent and has never used," said Lee.

Epistar plans to appeal and will ask for a stay of enforcement for the Limited Exclusion Order. The company says that its next generation MB products (PE and PN series) are already shipping and have no infringement issues related to the '718 patent. The same applies to its next generation OMA and GB products, the Phoenix series.

In addition to the ITC investigation, Philips Lumileds also has a pending action in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in which Philips Lumileds asserts its patent rights against Epistar's OMA, MB, and GB products, seeking both damages and an injunction.

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