According to Cree's press release, the license authorizes Lite-On, a strategic chip customer for Cree, to manufacture and sell light bars incorporating Cree white LEDs for use in backlighting the LCD displays of laptops.
However, as with any other patent license, the agreement with Cree does not protect Lite-On should its white LED-based products infringe on patents owned by other companies.
The most important aspect of this news is that Cree now has a confirmed customer that will use its chips in this important and rapidly emerging market. Several laptops, including some Sony Vaio models, already use white LEDs as backlights in their LCD screens, but there is increasing interest from LCD makers and backlight makers to incorporate LEDs into their products.
This marks the first license Cree has granted specifically for a system-level application targeting laptop displays.
"Cree's '175 patent is particularly important to companies manufacturing white LED-based display products for the laptop and PC markets, because avoiding IP disputes is essential for PC market acceptance," noted Scott Schwab, Cree vice president and general manager of optoelectronics. "This arrangement with Lite-On is an important first step to addressing the emerging LED market in laptop displays."
"We knew we needed a strong LED technology with a broad intellectual property portfolio for our new backlighting products," said Rex Wu, Lite-On associate vice president. "Lite-On turned to Cree to provide a significant competitive advantage for products sold into the laptop backlighting marketplace."
Lite-On was founded in 1975 to produce LED products and has steadily grown to become one of the world's largest optoelectronic product manufacturers with production facilities worldwide. The company is a global leader in LEDs, photo-couplers, LCD displays, GPS, DVD players and many other products.