Nichia lawsuit targets Cotco LEDs in lighting product

Nichia is seeking a provisional injunction against a distributor of lighting products that contain white LEDs manufactured by Cotco, now part of Cree.

LED maker Nichia Corporation has filed a provisional injunction action in Tokyo District Court against Sterling Inc. The complaint alleges infringement of Nichia's patent No. 3065263 by white LEDs that are contained in the "4505 LED Palm Radio Light." The light is imported into Japan and marketed by Sterling.

Nichia says that it has warned Sterling and conducted negotiations several times regarding possible infringement of Nichia’s patents. Therefore, Nichia has therefore decided to file the provisional injunction action and is asking for Sterling to cease the [alleged] infringing activities.

The patent in question relates to white LEDs manufactured by combining a yellow phosphor with a blue LED chip that has a single wire-bond structure.

Most importantly, Nichia has named the LED manufacturer in question as Cotco International Ltd. of Hong Kong, China. As of last week, Cotco is now part of Cree.

Back in May 2005, Cotco licensed from Cree a US patent relating to white LEDs (www.ledsmagazine.com/news/2/5/16 ). The patent covers the combination of blue or UV LEDs with certain types of downconversion materials. The same patent was included in a patent cross-licensing agreement between Nichia and Cree, dating back to February 2005 (www.ledsmagazine.com/news/2/2/18).

For Cotco's white LEDs, some aspects of the manufacturing process are covered by the license with Cree, while Nichia clearly feels that other aspects are an infringement of its patents. It remains to be seen whether this particular dispute will cause a rift between Nichia and Cree, or whether Cotco will gain licensing rights to some of Nichia's patents based on the existing cross-licenses between Nichia and Cree.

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