LED business news: GE quits CFLs, Nichia and Everlight, Philips and WAC

Feb. 1, 2016
In the latest LED business news, we round up a discontinuation announcement from GE Lighting, and new developments regarding IP battles involving Nichia and Everlight, and Philips Lighting and WAC.

In the latest LED business news, we round up a discontinuation announcement from GE Lighting, and new developments regarding IP battles involving Nichia and Everlight, and Philips Lighting and WAC.

GE Lighting has announced that the company will discontinue the manufacture and sale of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for the US residential market by the end of 2016 in favor of LED-based lamps. Nichia has announced that it scored an intellectual property (IP) victory in a US district court in an ongoing LED-centric patent skirmish with Everlight Electronics. In another district court action, a judge has issued a stay in a Philips Lighting suit against WAC Lighting.

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GE LED transition

GE Lighting has been among the leaders working on LED-based retrofit lamps in the past few years, so the focus shift to LED lamps isn’t exactly surprising. Still, the move completely away from CFLs is bold given that LED-based lamps still cost more.

GE listed several motivating factors for the move including the fact that LEDs are symbiotic with the trend toward intelligent lighting. Indeed, the company brought a wireless-networked Link family of lamps to market back in 2014 and clearly eyes the future as connected. The company also noted that the price of LED lamps has dropped dramatically over the past five years.

Ultimately, however, it’s market and technology forces that are behind the GE decision to drop CFLs. The company said that about 15% of consumers have used LED lamps and projects that 50% of residential sockets will be filled with LED products in 2020. GE said the fact that LED lamps outperform CFLs in terms of consumer expectations is leading to a sharp decline in CFL sales.

The regulatory environment also played a part in GE’s decision-making process. New Energy Star guidelines (Lamps V2.0) that will kick in beginning in 2017 will raise the required efficacy level of lamps. GE said it would be difficult to meet the new requirements with CFL technology.

GE reported that it has already phased out some CFL products. Moreover, the company is working with retail partners such as Walmart and Sam’s Club to make the transition. Indeed, GE said that Sam’s Club would move to 100% LED lamps for sale by the end of the year.

Nichia and Everlight

In other LED business news, with the latest round of a years-long court fight around the globe, Nichia won a recent decision before the US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas. The court ruled that Everlight has infringed three Nichia patents in an action that Nichia first filed in 2013. Around the globe the two companies have sparred in court for more than a decade. Indeed, we covered a patent action between the two as far back as 2006.

Generally, Everlight has sought to try and have Nichia patents overturned as opposed to signing some type of licensing agreement. Everlight has claimed that Nichia used fictitious lab results to substantiate patents.

In the Texas dispute, the court found for Nichia and denied Everlight’s contention that the three patents involved should be ruled invalid. The patents include Patent Number 8,530,250 (the “250 Patent”) that covers key technology used in Nichia’s popular 757 and 157 Series of packaged LEDs. Everlight products that Nichia says infringe the 250 patent include the XI3030, XI3535, 62-217D, 62-257D, and 45-21S series of LED products. The ruling also found infringement of Patent Numbers. 7,432,589 and No. 7,462,870.

Philips and WAC

Finally, Philips Lighting has pursued a patent infringement action against Wangs Alliance Corporation (WAC) for the past year, and Edison Report has posted a copy of a recent court decision in the case. WAC has argued that six of the asserted patents are invalid and indeed the US Patent Office had separately begun Inter Partes Review (IPR) of those patents back in November.

The decision was at least a temporary win for WAC as it will be able to continue and sell the presumed infringing products until November 15 or until an earlier date if an IPR decision is reached. That said, Philips will still pursue other claims against WAC no matter the outcome of the IPR.