Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor extend patent disputes

Oct. 11, 2007
Nichia has filed a further patent infringement lawsuit against Seoul Semiconductor, provoking a strong response from the Korean company.
Nichia Corporation has filed a new lawsuit on October 10, 2007, in the Seoul Central District Court in Korea, against rival LED maker Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd, alleging infringement of a patent owned by Nichia.

The Japanese company alleges that Seoul Semiconductor's Z-Power LED P9 Series white LED products infringe Nichia's Korean patent (no. 491482), and Nichia seeks damages for past infringement as well as an injunction against any further infringing activity.

This is the second lawsuit filed in Korea by Nichia against Seoul, adding to the two lawsuits in the US and Japan involving the two companies – see Nichia hits Seoul with further patent lawsuit – Sept 17, 2007.

In response, Seoul Semiconductor has issued a press release to refute the infringement claims made by Nichia. "Over the years, Seoul Semiconductor has made significant investments in R&D, and has filed and registered more than 1,200 patents technologies on its own," says the press release. "Seoul Semiconductor produces and sells products based on its own patent technologies, as well as from patent technologies it licenses from prestigious universities, institutes and companies including the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Solid State Light Display Center in the US, and Nitride Semiconductor in Japan."

In addition, Seoul Semiconductor also pointed out that it has entered cross-licensing and strategic cooperation agreements with leading LED chip producers including Cree in the USA, Osram GmbH in Germany and Toyoda Gosei in Japan.

Seoul also commented specifically on the latest Nichia lawsuit alleging infringement of Korean patent no. 491482 as follows:

"Reiterating an earlier announcement on May 18, 2007, Seoul Semiconductor responds that only a small amount (US$2,000 worth in 2007) of its Z-Power LED P9 was produced and sold in Korea using blue chips manufactured by the Boise, Idaho-based SemiLEDs Corporation. This occurred before Seoul Semiconductor’s started using blue chips from Cree in its P9 LEDs."

According to Seoul, SemiLEDs Corp. is proceeding with the P9 lawsuit in Japan where it is represented by Ohno & Partners, and Seoul says it will cooperate with SemiLEDs Corp. on this lawsuit. At the time of writing, LEDs Magazine has no further details of this lawsuit.

Seoul Semiconductor’s press release also described the company as "an ardent supporter and proponent of the importance of intellectual property laws to encourage technological innovation and advancement" and said that the company "has consistently demonstrated that it takes its responsibility to respect and recognize the intellectual property rights of others very seriously."

The press release concludes "There is no evidence to support Nichia’s claim and attempt to disrupt business at Seoul Semiconductor. As part of its duty to represent the interest of its shareholders and customers, Seoul Semiconductor will defend itself against unsubstantiated attacks from Nichia."