Osram licenses white LED patents to Citizen, ending dispute

An agreement between two white LED manufacturers could pave the way for future cooperation.

Osram GmbH and its subsidiary Osram Opto Semiconductors has signed an extensive patent license agreement with Citizen Electronics Co. Ltd, covering Osram's patents relating to white LED products. Citizen is a rival LED manufacturer based in Japan.

The agreement ends the patent dispute between Osram and Citizen that has been ongoing since 2005 (see Osram Opto files patent lawsuit against Citizen).

Citizen has agreed to pay a royalty fee to use Osram's intellectual property in white LEDs of all sizes, covering all output classes and all possible applications, including displays, keypads and automobiles.

Ruediger Mueller, CEO of Osram Opto Semiconductors, said, "We are pleased that this agreement signals the end of a dispute and that another renowned LED manufacturer has recognized the importance of our IP."

As well as the lawsuit filed in Germany in 2005, Osram filed another lawsuit in the US in 2006 (see Osram sues Citizen over six US patents on white LEDs).

The relevant IP rights licensed from Osram protect the basic technology of creating white light by combining a blue chip with a yellow converter.

As well as signing this agreement, Citizen and Osram say that they are discussing the possibility of cooperation.

The white LED patent arena contains a complex set of relationships, some of which seem to cover the same ground. Citizen signed a licensing agreement with Nichia in early 2002 to allow Citizen to manufacture white LEDs using Nichia's IP. Later the same year, Osram and Nichia entered into a cross-licensing agreement. But neither of these agreements guarded Citizen from infringing Osram's IP in this area. >

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