Seoul and Nichia sign cross-licensing agreement

After an extensive (and expensive) series of patent lawsuits, the dispute between Nichia and Seoul has been resolved.

Feb 2nd, 2009
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Two rival LED makers, Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd. of Korea and Nichia Corporation of Japan, have announced that they have settled all litigations on patent and other issues as well as other legal disputes currently pending between them in the United States, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and Korea.

The settlement includes a cross license agreement covering LED and laser diode technologies, which will permit the companies to access all of each other's patented technologies.

In accordance with the settlement terms, all litigation between the companies will be terminated as promptly as possible by mutual withdrawals. The exception is the litigation in Germany involving patent DE 691-07-630 T2 of EP 0-437-385 B1, which will be resolved following a hearing in February 2009.

Seoul and Nichia have been involved in a large number of patent-related lawsuits in various countries around the world – see our Patents & Licensing channel for details.

Most recently, on October 28, 2008, Seoul was victorious in a lawsuit filed by Nichia – see news.

The agreement follows several licensing deals signed at the end of last year; in November, Seoul signed a cross-licensing deal with Austrian LED maker Tridonic, and Nichia signed a deal with fellow Japanese company Sharp. Then, in December, Cree resolved its differences with fellow US LED maker Bridgelux.

A Seoul Semiconductor spokesperson told LEDs Magazine that the deal with Nichia will have several effects. One is that it will make customers more "comfortable" to buy Seoul's LED products because any possible supply or litigation problems have been removed (at least with respect to Nichia).

Another consequence will be that Seoul is now in a stronger position to defend its intellectual property rights against third-party companies with (allegedly) infringing products.

In particular, we might expect to see a crackdown against companies that supply AC-driven LEDs similar to Seoul's Acriche product; Seoul has more than 200 products in this area, according to the spokesperson.

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