COMMENTARY: Patents - One verdict, two outcomes

You may have seen lots of news on the LEDs Magazine website (Patents Channel) in recent weeks relating to LED patents. As well as the deal between Toyoda Gosei and Osram, which completed another strand in the web of cross-licensing between major LED makers, perhaps the most significant announcement was the dispute between Korea's Seoul Semiconductor and Japan's Nichia.

A jury verdict in California in early November said that LED products from Seoul infringed on several US design patents owned by Nichia, and that the infringement was wilful. Victory for Nichia, right? Perhaps not. Seoul claimed to have "prevailed" in the lawsuit, and said it was only liable to pay $62 in damages. Nichia says the amount was $250, but whatever the actual figure might be, it is still several million dollars less than Nichia hoped for at the outset.

So which company did actually prevail? This is undoubtedly an important lawsuit for both sides; they hired a top-class set of lawyers and reputedly spent seven-figure sums. Unfortunately, at the time of writing the final outcome is still unknown. A judge will decide whether to issue an injunction against the LEDs, or against products containing the LEDs.

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This article was published in the November/December 2007 issue of LEDs Magazine.

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