Nichia and Seoul to End Global LED Patent Wars

February 25th, 2009 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »


Earlier this month Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor (Seoul), whose bitter LED patent battles spanned courts and administrative bodies across three continents, announced that they have resolved almost all of their litigation.  The parties will enter a cross-licensing agreement covering their LED and laser diode technology.

The disputes included patent infringement claims involving utility and design patents, false advertising and defamation claims, as well as claims of anti-competitive conduct.  The suits raged in Europe, Japan, Korea and Germany, as well as multiple U.S. jurisdictions, including Texas, California, Michigan and the International Trade Commission.

Some of the highlights (or lowlights, as it were) included:

A Nichia “victory” in an LED design patent case where Seoul made only two sales of infringing products amounting to $62 in damages; the court awarded a judgment of the $250 statutory minimum (see my posts on this case here and here)

A Nichia suit accusing Seoul of false advertising and unfair competition in connection with Seoul press releases claiming the company’s accused products were “actually non-infringing” and it had “substantially prevailed” in litigation when in fact a jury had found Seoul willfully infringed all four Nichia design patents (see my post on this case here)

A Seoul suit accusing Nichia of monopolization and attempted monopolization by pursuing baseless lawsuits to preserve its monopoly power in the white side-view LED market, including allegedly contriving a fake purchase of Seoul LEDs just to create a U.S. sale and establish jurisdiction for an infringement suit (see my post on this case here)

One interesting epilogue is that Nichia put out a follow-up press release taking pains to deny any cooperative arrangements between Nichia and Seoul that might suggest collusion or other anti-competitive behavior.   The press release noted some media reports of cooperation between the two competitors, which may have included Communist media because Nichia made clear that it is “by no means a ‘comrade’ of [Seoul].”

The LED wars between Nichia and Seoul involved so many lawsuits and so much bad blood, that it reached the point where a new complaint filed was no longer news.  But the bitter rivals finally making peace is definitely news.


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