SSL Technology Update: Patent news; Symposium on the Science and Technology of Lighting; LEDs in Germany (July 2, 2012)

July 2, 2012
In this week's technology update video, we cover patent litigation news, outdoor news from the Annual Symposium on the Science and Technology of Light, and recent LED-related developments in Germany.

The intellectual property front is always a busy one in the relatively immature LED lighting space but we've recently seen a spike in activity.

Everlight Electronics has stepped up its battle with Nichia, contesting the validity of the latter's US patent 5998925 that is fundamental to phosphors used to make white LEDs. Everlight says that Nichia could not have made some phosphors in the manner described in the patent, because some are not thermodynamically stable. If Everlight is correct, the validity of the patent, which underlies much additional IP from Nichia and others, could be questioned.

Cree and SemiLEDs have agreed to end the litigation between the two companies, and SemiLEDs has agreed to make a one-time payment to Cree. The claims were dismissed without prejudice, meaning the companies COULD reassert the claims in the future.

Ruud Lighting, a Cree company, has filed another infringement lawsuit against Cooper Lighting relative to the former's 7952262 patent, covering LED modules mounted on heat sinks. In the latest action, Ruud says Cooper is selling a product that infringes on the patent.


On the conference front, outdoor lighting experts from around the globe gathered last week on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus in Troy, New York for the 13th Annual Symposium on the Science and Technology of Lighting, hosted by the Lighting Research Center. The clear message was that LEDs will become the dominant light source even sooner than most analysts predict.

In a CTO panel featuring technology executives from Cree, GE Lighting, Osram, Panasonic, Philips and Toshiba, the consensus was that even OLED technology won't threaten LEDs but will be complimentary in specific applications requiring diffused light. The biggest challenge the LED community faces may be low efficacy in green emitters that are limiting deployment of color-tunable products.

LEDs in Germany

Moving to a look at LED's globally, Germany is poised for significant growth in all segments of solid-state lighting, according to analysts and the Germany Trade & Invest government agency that encourages investment. Frost & Sullivan projects the LED lamp industry will grow in Germany by 27% from 2008 to 2018. Jonathan Schoo, with Germany Trade & Invest said, "The energy revolution in Germany is enabling many infrastructural upgrades. Several German cities have already begun testing LEDs in street lamps and in buildings."