Letter to the Editor: from Brett Kingstone, Super Vision

March 24, 2005
Brett Kingstone responds to comments made in a recent letter from Color Kinetics executives.
From: Brett Kingstone, President/CEO, Super Vision International To: The Editor, LEDs Magazine

The March 11, 2005 Letter to the Editor from Color Kinetics, “Color Kinetics Clarifies Issue”, is reminiscent of their previous claims to the press that were later followed up with a retraction letter. In a December 2004 article in Lighting & Sound America magazine, George Mueller, Color Kinetics Founder & CEO, was quoted that his company did not issue “cease and desist” letters to companies at the LDI trade show. During these shows Color Kinetics entered the booths of lighting manufacturers and issued threatening letters followed by statements that these manufacturers would be shut down with litigation if they continued to produce and sell LED lighting products. Later, when these very letters surfaced from the manufacturers themselves, George Mueller responded with a retraction letter to Lighting & Sound in January 2005 admitting that he "misspoke".

In their current letter they have again attempted to rewrite the history of our industry by claiming sole authorship of inventions that have been utilized by manufactures many years prior. Bill Bell, Borealis, Tam Bailey, Jerry Laidman and the Sound Chamber have documented evidence of developing, producing and selling intelligent LED lighting systems many years prior to that of Color Kinetics. Documents and affidavits confirming this fact are available to anyone who desires to search the public court filings on the PACER system in the Federal Court in Boston or by clicking on the documents and affidavits at www.svision.com/ledalliance. Those documents confirm that what Color Kinetics claims was its “heavy lifting to resolve technical challenges” were in fact actually lifted from the shoulders of others. Their claims of being “pioneers” in the LED lighting field, while being participants in this industry a mere seven years, does a disservice to the dozens of other dedicated lighting industry manufacturers who have participated in this field for several decades.

Color Kinetics’ thinly veiled attack on their “most vocal critic” does have some merit. Super Vision did in fact sue a Chinese competitor, and their lawyers and his bankers, who were involved in the theft of our intellectual property and the counterfeiting of these products worldwide. The case took more than three years to bring to trial and Super Vision did not undertake this challenge lightly. We felt this was both a moral as well as business obligation to pursue organizations that misappropriate technology. In the prior case, a jury found our opponent guilty of Trade Secret Theft, Fraud, Fraud in the Inducement, Civil Theft and violations of the Florida RICO Act. In a separate criminal case, the President and CEO of the defendant company was sentenced to prison. Our concerns regarding the oversights of the United States Patent Office in such matters are well justified. The United States Patent Office issued patents to this group of alleged “inventors” based on technology that these individuals literally stole from Super Vision’s facilities. Color Kinetics is now attempting in their letter to publicly admonish Super Vision for protecting our technology from outright theft. The court later ordered all these issued patents and applications to be assigned back to Super Vision. Your readers can learn more about this case in the recently published book "The Real War Against America" (ISBN: 0975519921).

Similar to the previous case we did not undertake the current effort to invalidate Color Kinetics patent portfolio lightly. We did not purchase the High End “patents as a litigation tool.” In fact we were not aware of Richard Belliveau's “Variable Color Lighting System” patent until after we had already filed our declaratory judgment action against Color Kinetics. As part of our prior art search we were introduced to Richard Belliveau and High End Systems. We had learned that High End Systems had previously informed Color Kinetics that they were infringing their earlier patent that governs the networking control of multiple color lighting systems utilizing color mixing and variable voltage. This patent, which pre-dates Color Kinetics patents by more than nine years, broadly covered the processes which we had utilized with our LED products and we undertook licensing/purchase negotiations accordingly. We have made this patent available to other industry manufacturers on a fair and open basis to extend similar broad patent protection so they may continue to conduct their production and development of LED lighting products. We have not walked into any booths and made threatening statements to sign a single license. All our licensees have voluntarily joined us to show their support.

Our industry has had its first experience with the ills affecting our software, medical and industrial processing industries. Until now the lighting industry has been a relatively collegial group of friendly competitors working towards a common goal of growing the overall market. Now we are being told by a relative newcomer that the tools of the trade which we have been practicing for decades cannot be utilized without paying a very high toll. This is analogous to a carpenter obtaining patents on a hammer, nail and saw and threatening litigation against any carpenter in the industry who chooses to compete. The only problem is that pulse width modulation and other commonly used tools of our trade, while obvious to members of our industry, are not as obvious as carpenter’s tools to patent examiners.

Recently Color Kinetics has filed a patent application on the combination of LEDs to create white light in their March 2005 patent application number 20050047134. Claim one states: “A lighting system, comprising: a plurality of LEDs selected from a group consisting of red, green, blue, amber, white, orange and UV LEDs; a controller adapted to control an overall color formed by combined light from the plurality of LEDs; and a variable optical facility adapted to modify the combined light.”

In February 2005 they also attempting to patent the utilization of white light in patent application number 20050040774 where they state as Claim 1 “ A method of providing illumination in a marketplace, comprising: a) generating radiation using a plurality of LEDs, the radiation comprising essentially white light and having an adjustable spectral content; b) illuminating at least one article in the marketplace with the generated radiation; and c) controlling the spectral content of the generated radiation.”

This month Color Kinetics filed patent application number 20050044617, “Methods and Apparatus for Illumination of liquids". Claim 1 states: “An apparatus, comprising: one of a pool and a spa to contain a liquid; and at least one light source, supported by the one of the pool and the spa, to illuminate the liquid, the at least one light source including at least one LED.” It is interesting to note that they have filed such a claim in March of 2005 even after acknowledging in the current litigation with Super Vision that our company has been producing and selling LED lighting systems that have existed below the water line in pools and spas for more than four years. In fact, one of the things they are claiming against us in their countersuit are royalties on the very products we sold four years ago that they are now claiming to have invented in their recent patent application.

To see more of the Color Kinetics pending patent application filings click on this link.

Meanwhile, as it relates to the High End/ Belliveau patent which repeatedly references “light source” in its claims, George Mueller stated in his March 11, 2004 press release that the patent applies “not to LED-based systems, and we’re confident that its assertion against Color Kinetics is completely without merit.” Well here finally perhaps George Mueller is right, once you remove the words “light” and “emitting” from LED, all you’ve got left is just a diode.

Best Regards,
Brett Kingstone
President/CEO, Super Vision International
Tel. +1 407 857 9900x211