Letter to the Editor: from Jeremy Lord, Light Artist
Furthering the debate surrounding the patent litigation between Color Kinetics and Super Vision, Jeremy Lord weighs in heavily on the side of the LED Alliance.
From: Jeremy Lord
I'm a light artist and electronics engineer in the UK. I've been using PWM or "digital switching means" for many, many years and although (for technical reasons) I have recently converted to bit angle modulation (thanks Wayne) I am so sorry that Color Kinetics were ever granted that insane patent with its deliberately confusing preamble - they certainly fooled the US patent office. I can't believe that so many companies (including JTE) have signed an agreement with those guys (see Color Kinetics licenses to James Thomas Engineering).
The LED Alliance and Super Vision International has my total support - not that that will mean anything other than by adding to the moral high ground. This will be of little commercial value unless everyone in this industry raises their voice, supports the LED Alliance and does something to get the original CK patents made null and void.
I do not believe it an inventive step to use a tried and tested control means to drive a load which may not have been previously documented. The inventive step is in the control means - it is NOT in what it is used to control - would CK claim that connecting a solution of salt water to a PWM controller is original and worthy of a patent ? OK - they could claim that they had invented a means of controlling bubbles in a liquid - so what? Unless the actual apparatus of controlling bubbles in a liquid is an inventive step they have no claim to anything - and likewise they have no claim in being able to control the light level emitted by an LED in their patent.
Further, did Canon, when they invented the early bubble-jet printer technology, claim a patent on all PC's when their printer is connected to a PC's parallel port? Of course not - parallel printer ports already existed (just as PWM already existed). Just because Canon had invented a new printing means did not mean that connecting it to an existing printer port was an inventive step. So how can CK claim what they claim, when they have not invented PWM, any other digital switching means or LEDs? Surely their original patents must be challenged and by so doing they should be thrown out for the nonsense they are.
Ask yourself this, did any light fitting manufacturer (be it filament, fluorescent, halide or whatever) try to file a patent which claimed that by placing a dimmer inside their fitting they had invented something new?
Come on you lot, this is a sad and pathetic situation, you should all be spending time on things which are important. Sadly I fear that so much of the industry is now going to spend its time filling the pockets of men who John Wayne would have put to rest in spectacular style without a second thought. The Wild West is alive and well and now resides in Boston, MA.
LEDs Magazine welcomes comments on this Letter, or on the patent situation in general. Please contact Tim Whitaker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Jeremy Lord is a Light Artist based in Hove, UK.