Nichia and Luminus form partnership, cross-license patents

Feb. 3, 2009
Nichia seems to think that a partnership with a US-based LED maker will provide a boost in its attempts to gain ground in the solid-state lighting market.
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Two LED manufacturers, Japan’s Nichia Corporation and US-based Luminus Devices Inc., have announced an alliance based on cross-licensing of intellectual property, technology sharing, and a manufacturing partnership.

The two companies say that they will “combine their expertise and resources in order to bring to the market a new breed of high-power white LEDs.”

Details of the business agreement between these two privately-held companies are confidential, although they say that the shared objective is to accelerate the adoption of solid-state lighting.

The combination of technologies of both companies, including Nichia’s phosphors and epitaxial materials and Luminus’ large-chip technology, will, say the companies, create “novel high-power LED products that will enable new solid-state lighting applications.”

Nichia and Luminus will cross-license intellectual property and share critical process knowledge which is expected to result in new and innovative products. They say they have also established a manufacturing partnership, whereby each company will “contribute the resources, materials and capabilities needed to meet the quality and performance requirements for the products.”

Luminus Devices, based in Billerica, Massachusetts, is best known for its large-chip PhlatLight(r) LEDs, which it has supplied as RGB chipsets for projection applications. The company has yet to make a significant impact in the SSL market with white LED products.

Nichia is the largest supplier of white LEDs in the world, but has also struggled in the SSL market particularly in comparison with rivals such as Cree, Osram and Lumileds. There has not been a huge amount to show from Nichia’s partnership with GE, a major lighting company with a dedicated LED unit, announced back in August 2006 – see news.

The first products from the partnership are planned for launch in 2009. Some of the jointly developed products will be marketed by Nichia and others by Luminus. The press release from Luminus says that both companies will “be able to use the prestigious PhlatLight trademark” although the association with the Nichia brand is likely to be more valuable.

“We would like to pay the greatest honor to Luminus Devices and their innovative technologies,” said Eiji Ogawa, President of Nichia. “We look forward to working together to create environmentally friendly products with the combination of our technologies.”

“We are privileged to be working closely with Nichia,” said Udi Meirav, CEO of Luminus. “But the biggest winners will be our customers, who will have unprecedented LED performance and the benefit of a reliable, high volume supply of these novel products.”