Nichia files LED patent complaints, reaches agreement

Sept. 16, 2010
Nichia has filed complaints in the US and Japan that it has accused of using its LED-related patents.
Japan-based LED manufacturer Nichia continues to focus on LED patent and intellectual property (IP) issues in its public announcements. The company recently claimed record efficacy for an LED operating at 1A via a technical journal paper, but its press releases are invariably about IP issues.

Nichia has filed a lawsuit against Wilmar Corporation, a US corporation, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant is infringing several patents held by Nichia relating to LED technology. In the lawsuit, Nichia seeks an injunction against, and damages for, the alleged infringement.

Nichia alleges that Wilmar is infringing two Nichia patents relating to white LEDs (US patents 5,998,925 and 7,531,960), and two others relating to LED chips (US patents 5,652,434 and 6,093,965).

On a more positive note, Nichia says it has entered into an agreement with MrMax Corporation under which both companies "will have [a] productive business relationship." The settlement follows discussions on the potential issues regarding Nichia’s Japanese patents and private-brand products of MrMax that use LEDs. Under the agreement, MrMax will use Nichia’s white LEDs, blue LEDs and pink LEDs for its decorative illumination products.

Nichia says that MrMax’s appreciation of Nichia’s intellectual property rights is "one of the affirmative results of Nichia’s continued efforts in Asia, Japan, United States and Europe to make the retailers aware of the importance of IP issues."

Ominously, however, Nichia says that it intends to extend an intensified effort to protect its IP rights, especially in private-brand products sold in Japan (or products manufactured in Asia and sold in other regions).

If that were not enough, Nichia has also filed four provisional injunction actions against Tsannkuen Japan, a seller of LED light bulbs.

Nichia believes white LEDs used in certain LED light bulb products of Tsannkuen Japan, sold by G.K. Seiyu and K.K. Yamada Denki, infringe Nichia's white LED patents (no. 3724498, no. 3995011, no. 4109297 and no. 4530094), and has filed provisional injunction actions in Tokyo District court.

The IP concerns the technology of combining phosphor with blue LED, and is employed in many white LED products that combine phosphor with blue LEDs.