Super Vision patent lawsuit against Color Kinetics dismissed

Super Vision's lawsuit against Color Kinetics alleging infringement of the Variable Color Lighting Systems patent has been dismissed, but Super Vision plans to re-file. It could take two more years before the dispute is finally resolved.

Yesterday, delegates at the "Next LED Generation" conference in London listened to Brett Kingstone, president and CEO of Super Vision(*), as he explained why exactly the LED Alliance believes that Color Kinetics has been granted a series of patents that are substantially based on prior art.

At the same time, over in the US, it was announced that Super Vision had received yet another setback in its attempts to tackle Color Kinetics' patents through the courts.

The lawsuit filed in March 2004 by Super Vision alleging that Color Kinetics is infringing U.S. patent no. 4,962,687 has been dismissed. The patent in question was acquired by Super Vision from High End Systems, and is entitled "Variable Color Lighting Systems".

The court determined that Super Vision, rather than being the owner of the patent, was a non-exclusive licensee, and as such had no right to enforce the patent. However, the court did not rule out the possibility of a future lawsuit, should Super Vision acquire the appropriate rights from the patent owner.

Super Vision says that it will "review the court's dismissal in depth and file another suit against Color Kinetics". It also believes that the ruling "will have no impact on Super Vision's ability to prevail on the merits of its infringement claims."

Previous rulings

So far, everything has gone in favor of Color Kinetics, although this is by no means the end of the matter.

Only 3 weeks ago, the judge issued a summary judgment ruling which was strongly in favor of Color Kinetics, stating that the company's patents in question were valid and that certain Super Vision products infringed on some of those patents (see Color Kinetics wins summary judgment against Super Vision (Aug 2005) and Judgment details from Color Kinetics & Super Vision case (Aug 2005)).

Super Vision stated that it intends to appeal against this ruling, and is confident that it will have more success in front of the U.S. Patent Appeals Court in Washington. In a message to LED Alliance supporters, Kingstone wrote "although there can be no guarantee of success, our attorneys are still very confident in our ability to return this case to a jury trial on the merits, based on significant errors in prior rulings both in fact and law.

Super Vision has already filed an appeal against the first round of summary judgement rulings that went in favor of Color Kinetics (see Color Kinetics' summary judgment motion granted on three claims (Apr 2005)). The appeal can be viewed at http://www.svision.com/enews/transfer/SVResponseCK0905.pdf.

With Super Vision planning to appeal the most recent summary judgment rulings and also to re-file its infringement case concerning the '687 patent, there is no end in sight. Brett Kingstone told the audience at the London LED conference that "it could take two more years to resolve everything."

This provides little comfort to any of the LED fixture manufacturers on the sidelines of this dispute. However, some are not standing still. At this week's PLASA show, Tryka L.E.D. Ltd unveiled its Intelligent Drive System products. These utilize Pulse Amplitude Modulation technology, which has been patented around the world, and represents an alternative to the pulse width modulation (PWM) technique around which many of the contentious Color Kinetics patents are based.

* Bauer replaces Kingstone at Super Vision

In related news, Brett Kingstone is to step down as president and CEO of Super Vision, and will be succeeded from January 1, 2006 by Mike Bauer, currently the company's VP of sales and marketing, who has worked in the lighting industry for more than 18 years.

Color Kinetics bolsters sales organization for growth

Color Kinetics has appointed Philip O'Donnell as Vice President, North American Sales and Paul Kallmes as Director of Licensing. The important hires mark the latest achievement in an on-going expansion of the company's worldwide sales organization, which has grown significantly in one year.

O'Donnell will oversee Color Kinetics' direct and channel sales for the company's Lighting Systems business. Kallmes will oversee the identification and development of licensing opportunities that extend the value of Color Kinetics' intellectual property and expertise to third-party manufacturers. He most recently served as Director of Business Development for Rockwell Scientific Licensing, where he was responsible for a broad range of technology development, licensing, and new business activities, including the assessment and characterization of value in IP portfolios.

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