Nichia warns Harvatek, drops patent claim

Feb. 22, 2006
Nichia has contacted Harvatek to advise of alleged infringement of a design patent. Meanwhile, the Japanese LED maker is planning to give up its rights to a contentious wafer-manufacturing patent.
Nichia Corporation has send a warning letter to a rival Taiwanese LED manufacturer Harvatek Corporation to advise Harvatek of its infringement of Nichia's design patent (Taiwanese Patent Certificate No. 089,036).

Nichia says that it hired a Taiwanese expert to assess whether a SMD LED distributed by Harvatek (HT-V135BP) infringes the abovementioned Nichia's design patent.

The summary of the assessment report confirms the alleged infringement.

The asserted design patent is one of Nichia's patents concerning SMD Type LED.

The disputed LED corresponding to Nichia's asserted design patent is mainly used for backlighting LCDs in cellular phones. Nichia holds design patents for this SMD-type LED in several countries including Taiwan.

Nichia To Give Up Critical But Contentious Blue LED Patent

According to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, Nichia has decided to abandon its claim to the "404 patent" which was at the heart of the legal battle between the company and Shuji Nakamura.

The patent describes technology which was developed by Nakamura when he was a Nichia employee, and which Nichia used for growing high-quality gallium nitride (GaN) epilayers, essential for manufacturing blue LEDs.

However, Nichia has developed a production system that does not use the technology and is satisfied that it no longer needs the patent to make blue LEDs.

Nakamura, who now teaches engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, filed a lawsuit against his former employer, demanding proper compensation for his contribution to the development of the blue LED.

Nichia and Nakamura settled out of court, following a recommendation in January 2005 by the Tokyo High Court (see Nichia settles patent dispute with former researcher).

Nichia agreed to pay roughly 600 million yen in compensation for Nakamura's work. Assessing the value of the 404 patent was the biggest point of contention in the lawsuit.

Aside from 404, Nichia holds around 400 LED-related patents.