Archive for the ‘Green Patents’ category

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

October 6th, 2017

Several new green patent complaints were filed in July and August in the areas of advanced batteries, electrolyzers for sewage treatment, LED lighting, eco-friendly pet products, solar powered trash compactors, and wind turbines.

 

Advanced Batteries

Somaltus LLC v. Universal Power Group

Somaltus LLC v. Tenergy Corporation

Somaltus LLC v. Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.

On July 26, 2017 Somaltus, a non-practicing entity, filed three patent infringement lawsuits against Universal Power Group (Somaltus v. Universal Power Group), Tenergy (Somaltus LLC v. Tenergy Corporation), and Maxim Integrated Products (Somaltus LLC v. Maxim Integrated Products Inc.).  The complaints were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

Each lawsuit asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,657,386, entitled “Integrated battery service system (‘386 Patent).

The ‘386 Patent is  directed to an integrated battery service system that performs a plurality of services related to a battery, such as battery testing, battery charging, and the like. In addition, the integrated service system provides services to devices/components that are coupled to the battery, such as starters, alternators, etc.

The accused products are Universal Power Group’s 24 v 8 amp Premium Quality Heavy Duty XLR 3-pin off-board Sealed AGM, GEL Universal 24BC8000T-1 battery charger, Tenergy’s T-9688 Universal 4 By NiMh/NiCd Smart Chargers, and Maxim’s Max77301 JEITA-Compliant Li+ Charger with Smart Power Selector.

 

Marine Sewage Treatment

DeNora Water Technologies Texas, LLC v. H2O, Inc.

This lawsuit involves bookcell electrolyzer technology used for oxidizing sewage.

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 6,379,525, entitled “Enhanced electrolyzer” and directed to an electrolyzer including a housing having an inlet and an outlet at a common end.  Within the housing are disposed electrode elements, a passageway that connects the inlet to the outlet, and a divider is disposed in the passageway between the inlet and outlet. The divider causes fluid entering the inlet to flow through one section of the passageway and then through another section of the passageway before exiting through the outlet.

The complaint was filed August 17, 2017 in federal court in Houston, Texas, and lists Defendant’s multi-pass bookcell electrolyzers as the accused products.

 

LEDs

Bitro Group Inc. v. Advanced Lighting Concepts, Inc.

Bitro sued Advanced Lighting Concepts (ALC) August 24, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey asserting infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,113,558 (‘558 Patent).

The ‘558 Patent is entitled “LED mount bar capable of freely forming curved surfaces thereon” and directed to an LED tape light strip with a structure that allows it to be bent in the direction of its width so it can be used for lighting that must conform to unique shapes.

The accused product listed in Bitro’s complaint is Defendant’s CurrentControl Bendable ZigZag LED Strip Light.

 

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Ontel Products Corporation

Filed August 23, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Blackbird’s complaint alleges that Ontel Products infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,883,927 (‘927 Patent).

Entitled “Frame assembly and light for an electrical wall conduit,” the ‘927 Patent is directed to a frame assembly for covering a wall conduit having a connection to electrical power.  The frame assembly comprises a light powered by an electrical circuit connected to the connection and a frame for housing the light.  The frame has an opening allowing access to the component through the frame, a side and an aperture in the side allowing the light to illuminate a space outside the frame assembly through the aperture.

The accused products are Ontel’s Night Angel electrical wall outlet covers.

 

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Lite-On, Inc. et al.

Document Security Systems (DSS) filed this lawsuit against Lite-On August 15, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asserting three LED patents.

The complaint contains a long list of accused products, e.g., many of Lite-On’s PLCC Series LED products, including both single color and multi-color lights.

The asserted patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,771, entitled “Light source”

U.S. Patent No. 7,524,087, entitled “Optical Device”

U.S. Patent No. 7,256,486, entitled “Packing device for semiconductor die, semiconductor device incorporating same and method of making same”

 

Technical LED Intellectual Property, LLC v. Osram Sylvania Inc.

Technical LED IP sued Osram on August 9, 2017 for alleged infringement of two patents relating to phosphor-based LED lights.  The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. RE41,685 (‘685 Patent) and 6,373,188 (‘188 Patent).

The ‘685 Patent is entitled “Light source with non-white and phosphor-based white LED devices, and LCD assembly” and directed to a light source incorporating phosphor-based white and non-white LEDs, which may be raised off the floor of the optical cavity to permit light to be emitted from the base of the LED.  A reflective protrusion may be placed beneath the raised LED to aid in redirecting light forward, and the LEDs may be skewed in relation to adjacent LEDs to reduce interference.

Entitled “Efficient solid-state light emitting device with excited phosphors for producing a visible light output,” the ‘188 Patent is directed to a solid-state light emitting device in which phosphors excited by radiation produce visible light.  The efficiency of the device is increased by providing a reflector adjacent to the phosphor layer for reflecting at least some of the radiation that passes through the phosphor back into the phosphor. The reflector may also reflect at least some of the visible light that is emitted by the phosphor toward a designated light output.

The accused products include, among others, Osram’s LEP-2100-840-HD-C,  LEP-2100-930-HD-C, LEP-800-840-HD-C, LEP800-930-HD-C, LED12A19/DIM/F/927, LCW CP7P-KPKR-5R8T, and LE CW E3B-NYPZ-QRRU models.

 

Green Pet Products

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Unique Petz, Inc.

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. C&A Marketing, Inc.

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. European Home Design, LLC

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Telebrands Corporation

These lawsuits involve pet pad technology that cools your pets without water or electricity.  These four complaints were filed August 16 and 17, 2017 in federal court in New Jersey and New York (THE GREEN PET SHOP ENTERPRISES, LLC v. C&A MARKETING, INC.; The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. European Home Design, LLCTHE GREEN PET SHOP ENTERPRISES, LLC v. TELEBRANDS CORPORATIONThe Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Unique Petz, Inc.).

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,720,218 and 9,226,474, both entitled “Pressure activated recharging cooling platform” and directed to a cooling platform comprising a temperature regulation layer, a support layer, and a channeled covering layer.  The temperature regulation layer is adapted to hold a composition and has a plurality of angled segments, wherein angled segments within a sealed perimeter of the temperature regulation layer are formed by a top side and a bottom side at a predefined distance, and channels, wherein the channels substantially form sides by contacting the top side with the bottom side at a distance lesser than the predefined distance.

The complaints allege that the defendants’ respective cooling mat products infringe the two patents.

 

Solar Powered Trash Compactors

BigBelly Solar, Inc. v. Ecube Labs Co.

In this lawsuit filed July 28, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, BigBelly asserts two patents relating to solar powered compaction technology.

U.S. Patent Nos. 7,124,680 and 7,481,159 are related patents, each entitled “Solar powered compaction apparatus” and directed to a trash compactor powered by a photovoltaic cell array.  The compaction feature allows the unit to be emptied less often than a typical trash container.  A removable bin allows easy removal of the compacted trash and can include multiple chambers for different trash types.

BigBelly’s complaint alleges that Ecube’s Clean CUBE product infringes the patents.

Wind Power

General Electric Co. v. Vestas Wind Systems A/S et al.

In this important wind industry lawsuit involving Zero Voltage Ride Through (ZVRT) technology, GE alleges that its Danish competitor, Vestas, infringes U.S. Patent No. 7,629,705 (‘705 Patent).

The ‘705 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for operating electrical machines” and directed to methods of facilitating zero voltage ride through so the turbine can remain online during voltage dips down to zero volts.

The complaint was filed July 31, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of California and lists the accused products as Vestas’ V90-3.0, V100-2.0, V112-3.0 and V117-3.3 wind turbines.

GE had a big win against Mitsubishi with this patent back in 2012.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

August 1st, 2017

Several new green patent complaints were filed in May and June in the areas of advanced batteries, electroluminescence lighting technology, green cleaning solvents, and LEDs.

 

Advanced Batteries

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. et al. v. Chervon (HK) Ltd.

In this lawsuit Milwaukee Electric asserted infringement of three patents relating to lithium-ion battery powered cordless power tools.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 7,554,290, entitled “Lithium-based battery pack for a hand-held power tool”

U.S. Patent No. 7,944,173, entitled “Lithium-based battery pack for a high current draw, hand held power tool”

U.S. Patent No. 7,999,510, entitled “Lithium-based battery pack for a high current draw, hand held power tool”

The complaint was filed May 5, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.  The accused products are Chervon’s Kobalt, Masterforce, Performax, and Craftsman branded tools.

 

Electroluminescence Lighting Technology

Shenzhen EL Lighting Technology Co. v. Midwest Trading Group, Inc.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on May 5, 2017, Shenzhen’s complaint accuses Midwest Trading Group of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,960,725 (‘725 Patent).

The ‘725 Patent is entitled “Electroluminescence (EL) tube and wire and manufacturing method” and directed to an electroluminescent wire core having a flexible central electrode, a luminescent layer and a transparent, conductive layer.  An outer surface of the central electrode is coated with the luminescent layer and the transparent, conductive layer, and the luminescent power is covered by thermoplastic macromolecular polymer and synthetic resin.

The accused products are the PowerXcel LIGHT-UP cables.

Green Cleaning Solvents

GreenEarth Cleaning, LLC v. Cameron Park Fresh Cleaners, Inc.

GreenEarth Cleaning, LLC v. Walrus Cleaners, Inc.

These actions for patent infringement, trademark infringement, and breach of contract were filed June 23 and June 26, 2017, respectively, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Although the complaints (GreenEarth Cleaning, L.L.C. v. Cameron Park Fresh Cleaners, Inc.GreenEarth Cleaning, L.L.C. v. Walrus Cleaners, Inc.)list nine patents, there is only one count of patent infringement asserting U.S. Patent No. 5,942,007 (‘007 Patent).

The ‘007 Patent is entitled “Dry cleaning method and solvent” and directed to dry cleaning methods comprising the steps of immersing clothes in a dry cleaning fluid including a cyclic siloxane composition, agitating the clothes in the composition, and then removing the cyclic siloxane composition by centrifugal action and air circulation.

According to the Abstract of the ‘007 Patent, the “cyclic-siloxane-based solvent allows the system to result in an environmentally friendly process which is, also, more effective in cleaning fabrics and the like than any known prior system.”

GreenEarth alleges that both defendants breached their respective license agreements with GreenEarth.

 

LEDs

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Leedarson Lighting Co. et al.

Lighting Science Group sued Leedarson May 9, 2017 in federal court in Orlando for infringement of three patents: U.S. Patent No. 8,201,968 (‘968 Patent), U.S. Patent No. 8,967,844 (‘844 Patent), and U.S. Patent No. 8,672,518 (‘518 Patent).

Entitled “Low profile light,” the ’968 Patent is directed to a luminaire including a heat spreader and a heat sink disposed outboard of the heat spreader, an outer optic securely retained relative to the heat spreader and/or the heat sink, and an LED light source.  The ‘518 Patent and the’ 844 Patent are entitled “Low profile light and accessory kit for the same” and relate to LSG’s disc light LED devices.

The complaint alleges that defendant’s downlight luminaires, including the DL-N19A9ER1-27 and DL-N19A11FR1-27 families of products, infringe the asserted patents.

Nitride Semiconductors Co. v. Rayvio Corporation

In this lawsuit involving UV LED technology, Nitride accuses Rayvio of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,861,270, entitled “Method for manufacturing gallium nitride compound semiconductor and light emitting element” (‘270 Patent).

The ‘270 Patent is directed to a method for manufacturing a GaN compound semiconductor which can improve light emitting efficiency even when dislocations are present. An n type AlGaN layer, a undoped AlGaN layer, and a p type AlGaN layer are laminated on a substrate to obtain a double hetero structure. When the undoped AlGaN layer is formed, droplets of Ga or Al are formed on the n type AlGaN layer.

The compositional ratio of Ga and Al in the undoped AlGaN layer varies due to the presence of the droplets, creating a spatial fluctuation in the band gap. Because of the spatial fluctuation in the band gap, the percentage of luminous recombinations of electrons and holes is increased.

The complaint was filed May 23, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The accused products include Rayvio’s SB4 LED.

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Everlight Electronics Co. et al.

Document Security Systems (DSS) filed two lawsuits June 8, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asserting several LED patents.

The complaint against Cree (Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.) lists as accused products, e.g., some of Cree’s XLamp ML products, CLM Series products, CLP Series products, and XLamp XB-D Family LED products.

The complaint against Everlight (Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd. et al) lists the PLCC Top View SMD LED, the 2214 package series, the 3020 package series, and several other products.

The combination of asserted patents varies by suit but comprise the following:

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,771, entitled “Light source”

U.S. Patent No. 7,256,486, entitled “Packing device for semiconductor die, semiconductor device incorporating same and method of making same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,279,355, entitled “Method for fabricating a packing device for semiconductor die and semiconductor device incorporating same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,524,087, entitled “Optional Device”

U.S. Patent No. 7,919,787, entitled “Semiconductor device with a light emitting semiconductor die”

 

Everlight Electronics Co. v. Bridgelux, Inc.

On the enforcement side, Everlight sued Bridgelux for patent infringement June 10, 2017 in federal court in San Francisco.

U.S. Patent Nos. 6,335,548 and 7,253,448 entitled “Semiconductor radiation emitter package” and directed to a semiconductor optical radiation package including a leadframe, a semiconductor optical radiation emitter, and an encapsulant.  The leadframe has a heat extraction member, which supports the semiconductor optical emitter and provides one or more thermal paths for removing heat.  The encapsulant covers and protects the emitter and optional wire bonds from damage and allows radiation to be emitted.

The complaint alleges that Bridgelux’s 2835 LED products infringe the patents.

 

Nanolumens Acquisition Inc. et al. v. Gable Signs & Graphics, Inc.

Nanolumens Acquisition Inc. et al. v. InfiLED USA, LLC

Nanolumens Acquisition Inc. et al. v. PixelFlex LLC

Nanolumens filed at least three infringement suits in June, each asserting three flexible LED display patents.

The patents are U.S. Patent No. 8,963,895, entitled “Ubiquitously mountable image display system,” relating to a ubiquitously mountable image display systems; U.S. Patent No. 9,159,707, entitled “Flexible display,” relating to a flexible display.  U.S. Patent No. 9,640,516, entitled Flexible display apparatus and method”,” relating to a flexible display apparatus and methods.

The complaint against Gable was filed June 9, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland; the complaint against InfiLED was filed June 9, 2017 in federal court in Atlanta; the complaint against Pixelflex was filed June 12, 2009 in federal court in Nashville.

Celgard Urges Supremes to Condemn Judgments Without Opinions

July 13th, 2017

Previous posts (e.g., herehere and here) discussed the patent enforcement activity of Celgard, a North Carolina company that manufactures specialty membranes and separators for lithium ion batteries.

In these lawsuits, Celgard has asserted U.S. Patent No. 6,432,586 (’586 Patent).  The ’586 Patent is entitled “Separator for a high energy rechargeable lithium battery” and directed to a separator including a ceramic composite layer and a polyolefinic microporous layer.  The ceramic layer has a matrix material and is adapted to block dendrite growth and prevent electronic shorting.

A bunch of competitors challenged the ‘586 Patent in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  After the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the USPTO found claims 1-11 of the ‘586 patent invalid as obvious in the proceedings brought by LG Chem, Celgard appealed.

In a one-line per curiam order handed down in December last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB decision.  The Federal Circuit denied Celgard’s subsequent petition for rehearing en banc.

Celgard has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court.  In its petition for certiorari, the company asks the Supremes to consider four questions.

First, are IPR proceedings unconstitutional?:

Whether inter partes review – an adversarial process used by the the Patent and Trademark Office (“Patent Office”) to analyze the validity of existing patents – violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury?

Second, are the Federal Circuit’s judgments without opinions improper?:

Whether the Federal Circuit’s issuance of Rule 36 judgments without opinions for the disposition of appeals from the Patent Office violates 35 U.S.C. § 144’s requirement that the Federal Circuit “shall issue” its “mandate and opinion” for such appeals?

Third, and related to the second question, do the Federal Circuit’s judgments without opinions violate the principles of justice?:

Whether the Federal Circuit’s pervasive practice of issuing Rule 36 judgments without opinions to affirm more than 50% of appeals from the Patent Office has exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and is inconsistent with “principles of right and justice”?

Fourth, Celgard challenges the PTAB’s obviousness ruling:

Whether the Patent Office’s consistent practice of failing to consider the claimed invention “as a whole” and failing to consider whether the combination of elements would lead to “anticipated success” in an obviousness determination conflicts with 35 U.S.C. § 103 and this Court’s precedent in KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 421 (2007)?

For more on the importance of the issues raised in this advanced battery case, see Patently-O’s post here.

For my part, I probably too frequently judge without opining.  Perhaps there’s a broader lesson for all of us here…

GPB Makes List of Top 100 IP Blogs, Coming in at No. 62 With a Bullet

June 15th, 2017

I’m very pleased to share that Green Patent Blog has been selected as one of the Top 100 Intellectual Property Blogs.

Compiled by Feedspot, the Top 100 were selected from thousands of IP blogs.  The list reflects rankings based on a number of criteria, including Google reputation and search ranking, social media influence and popularity, quality and consistency of posts, and review by Feedspot’s editorial team.

GPB came in at No. 62.  The perennial upper echelon of IP blogs includes IP Watchdog, Patently-O, IP Newsflash, and Law360’s Intellectual Property Blog.  Kudos to those champions!

Thanks to Feedspot for this honor.  It’s nice to get the recognition, but the true privilege of blogging comes when someone tells me my blog has served as a valuable tool for research and publication of new works on clean tech IP, and the real satisfaction is that of creating and publishing a well-crafted post on an original idea.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

May 29th, 2017

There were many new green patent complaints filed in March and April in the areas of advanced batteries, fuel efficiency, green cleaning solvents, LEDs, smart grid, and solar power.

 

Advanced Batteries

Somaltus LLC v. Johnson Outdoors, Inc.

On March 14, 2017 Somaltus, a non-practicing entity, filed a patent infringement complaint against Johnson Outdoors in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

The lawsuit asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,657,386, entitled “Integrated battery service system (‘386 Patent).

The ‘386 Patent is  directed to an integrated battery service system that performs a plurality of services related to a battery, such as battery testing, battery charging, and the like. In addition, the integrated service system provides services to devices/components that are coupled to the battery, such as starters, alternators, etc.

The accused products are Minn Kota Digital Onboard Chargers.

 

Fuel Efficiency

Transtex LLC et al. v. WABCO Holdings Inc.

In this lawsuit involving aerodynamic trailer skirts for improving the efficiency of truck trailers, Transtex has asserted eight patents against WABCO.

The patents are as follows:

U.S. Patent No. 7,748,772, entitled “Resilient aerodynamic trailer skirts “

U.S. Patent No. 7,887,120, entitled “Aerodynamic trailer skirts”

U.S. Patent No. 7,942,467, entitled “Aerodynamic skirt support member”

U.S. Patent No. 7,942,469, entitled “Aerodynamic skirt panel”

U.S. Patent No. 7,942,471, entitled “Aerodynamic skirt shape”

U.S. Patent No. 8,292,351, entitled “Resilient strut for aerodynamic skirt”

U.S. Patent No. 8,449,017, entitled “Aerodynamic skirt resilient member”

U.S. Patent No. 8,678,474, entitled “Self-repositioning aerodynamic skirt”

The accused products are the TrailerSkirt TS248 and TS259 flat panel trailer skirts.

 

Green Cleaning Solvents

GreenEarth Cleaning, LLC v. Natomas Fresh Cleaners, Inc.

This action for patent infringement, trademark infringement, and breach of contract was filed April 18, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Although the complaint lists nine patents, there is only one count of patent infringement asserting U.S. Patent No. 5,942,007 (‘007 Patent).

The ‘007 Patent is entitled “Dry cleaning method and solvent” and directed to dry cleaning methods comprising the steps of immersing clothes in a dry cleaning fluid including a cyclic siloxane composition, agitating the clothes in the composition, and then removing the cyclic siloxane composition by centrifugal action and air circulation.

According to the Abstract of the ‘007 Patent, the “cyclic-siloxane-based solvent allows the system to result in an environmentally friendly process which is, also, more effective in cleaning fabrics and the like than any known prior system.”

GreenEarth alleges that Natomas Fresh, which had a license from GreenEarth, continues to use liquid silicone as a dry cleaning solvent though it is no longer a licensee.

 

LEDs

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co. et al.

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Everlight Electronics Co. et al.

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.

In three lawsuits filed April 13, 2017 in federal court in Marshall, Texas, Document Security Systems has sued Seoul Semiconductor (Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd. et al.), Everlight Electronics (Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd. et al.), and Cree (Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.).

The combination of asserted patents varies by suit but comprise the following:

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,771, entitled “Light source”

U.S. Patent No. 7,256,486, entitled “Packing device for semiconductor die, semiconductor device incorporating same and method of making same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,279,355, entitled “Method for fabricating a packing device for semiconductor die and semiconductor device incorporating same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,524,087, entitled “Optional Device”

U.S. Patent No. 7,919,787, entitled “Semiconductor device with a light emitting semiconductor die”

The accused products include LED devices for the automotive market.

Epistar Corporation v. Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Epistar sued Lowe’s for patent infringement on April 28, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,346,771, entitled “High power LED lamp”

U.S. Patent No. 7,560,738, entitled “Light-emitting diode array having an adhesive layer”

U.S. Patent No. 8,791,467, entitled “Light emitting diode and method of making the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,492,780, entitled “Light-emitting device and manufacturing method thereof”

U.S. Patent No. 8,587,020, entitled “LED Lamps”

According to the complaint, the Kichler Lighting 60 W equivalent dimmable bulb, the Utilitech 60 W equivalent warm white bulb and similar products infringe the patents.

 

Golight, Inc. v. KH Industries, Inc. et al.

Filed March 1, 2017 in the U.S.District Court for the District of Colorado, Golight’s lawsuit asserts U.S. Patent No. 9,255,687, entitled “LED system and housing for use with halogen light fixtures” (‘687 Patent).

The complaint alleges that KH’s LED NightRay line of lighting products infringes the ‘687 Patent.

The ‘687 Patent is directed to an optical projection lens for mounting in front of LEDs.  The lens has a plurality of protrusions of varying thickness wherein the outermost edges of each protrusion has the thickest measurement, the center of each protrusion has the thinnest measurement, and the protrusions merge individual beams of light into a single beam of light.

 

Lemaire Illumination Technologies, LLC v. LG Electronics USA, Inc. et al.

Lemaire Illumination Technologies sued LG for alleged infringement of three patents relating to LED lighting technology.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,095,661 (‘661 Patent), 6,488,390 (‘390 Patent) and 9,119,266 (‘266 Patent).

The ‘661 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for an L.E.D. flashlight” and the ‘390 Patent is entitled “Color-adjusted camera light and method” and these related patents are directed to an LED flashlight including  a control circuit for maintaining a predetermined light output level of the LED units as a charge on a battery varies.

The ‘266 Patent is entitled “Pulsed L.E.D. illumination apparatus and method” and directed to an illumination source for a camera including one or more LEDs and a control circuit for driving the LEDs with electrical pulses at a frequency high enough that light produced has an appearance to a human user of being continuous rather than pulsed.

Filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas on April 14, 2017, the complaint lists the LG G3 and G4 smartphones as accused devices.

 

Philips Lighting North America Corporation et al. v. Deco Enterprises, Inc.

In a lawsuit filed April 12, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Philips asserted five patents related to LED drivers and circuits against Deco.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,094,014, entitled “Circuit arrangement, and signaling light provided with the circuit arrangement”

U.S. Patent No. 6,586,890, entitled “LED driver circuit with PWM output”

U.S. Patent No. 7,038,399, entitled “Methods and apparatus for providing power to lighting devices”

U.S. Patent No. 7,262,559, entitled “LEDS driver”

U.S. Patent No. 8,070,328, entitled “LED downlight”

The accused devices listed in the complaint include the Lucera series surface-mounted LED lighting fixtures.

 

Putco, Inc. v. Metra Electronics

This lawsuit involves LED headlight technology.  Putco alleges that Metra’s Heise Lighting Ssystems LED headlight replacement kits infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,243,796, entitled “LED lamp with a flexible heat sink” (‘796 Patent).

The ‘796 Patent is directed to an LED lamp with a flexible heat sink and a method of installing the lamp into a light fixture.

The complaint was filed March 10, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

 

Blackbird Tech v. Civilight North America

Blackbird Tech v. Euri Lighting

Blackbird Tech v. Great Eagle Lighting

Blackbird Tech v. MSI Lighting

Blackbird Tech v. Satco Products

Blackbird Tech v. S.E.L.S.

Blackbird Tech initiated several new lawsuits April 19, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The asserted patent in these suits is U.S. Patent No. 7,114,834 (‘834 Patent).  Entitled “LED lighting apparatus,” the ‘834 Patent is directed to a light comprising a housing, a plurality of LED lights coupled in an array inside of the housing, and a reflective protrusion for reflecting light from the LED lights out of the housing.

The LED array receives a consistent flow of DC current that will not result in the LED lights burning out. To prevent the LED array from burning out there is also a current regulator for controlling a current flowing through this LED array.

The complaints can be found here: Blackbird Tech LLC v. Civilight North America Corp.Blackbird Tech LLC v. Euri LightingBlackbird Tech LLC v. Great Eagle Lighting CorporationBlackbird Tech LLC v. MSI Lighting, Inc.Blackbird Tech LLC v. S.E.L.S. USA, LLCBlackbird Tech LLC v. Satco Products, Inc..

 

Smart Grid

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. ABB Inc.

Clean Energy has asserted infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,577,962 (‘962 Patent).  The complaint was filed March 1, 2017 in federal court in Marshall, Texas and names ABB as the sole defendant.

Entitled “System and method for forecasting energy usage load,” the ‘962 Patent is directed to systems and methods for forecasting energy usage load for a facility including a parameter identification module for determining periodic energy load usage of the facility and a load prediction module for generating energy usage load forecast profiles for the facility.  A set of matrices may include a matrix for storing coefficients for determining periodic changes in energy load usage, and a model parameter matrix for storing load parameter information.

The accused product is ABB’s Energy Management Software with Energy Management and Optimization Solution.

 

Solar Power

Allsop, Inc. v. Ambient Lighting, Inc.

Allsop sued Ambient for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,657,461 and 8,192,044, both entitled “Solar-powered collapsible lighting apparatus” and directed to a solar-powered lighting apparatus having a light transmissible spherical shade coupled to a housing that receives a solar cell, a battery and at least a portion of a lighting element assembly.

The complaint was filed April 10, 2017 in federal court in Seattle.

The accused product are several models of Ambient’s collapsible lanterns, including the “Coastal Blues 12” solar lanterns.

Rillito River Solar LLC v. Ecolibrium Solar Inc.

Rillito River Solar sued Ecolibrium March 22, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The complaint alleges that Ecolibrium’s EcoX line of products infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,422,723, entitled “Roofing grommet forming a seal between a roof-mounted structure and a roof” (‘723 Patent).

The ‘723 Patent is directed to a roof mount assembly including a piece of flashing positioned on the substrate.  The flashing includes a first surface, a second surface opposite the first surface and an aperture extending through the flashing.  A fastener extends through the flashing aperture, a bracket is connected to the flashing via the fastener, and a water-tight seal is positioned between the flashing aperture and the fastener.

Federal Circuit’s Four Factor Fiddle Raises the Bar for Patent Injunctions

May 17th, 2017

LED colossus Nichia (the world’s largest supplier of LEDs) accused Everlight of infringing three patents relating to tiny LEDs used in LCD backlights, video displays, automobiles, an general lighting:

U.S. Patent No. 8,530,250, entitled “Light emitting device, resin package, resin-molded body, and methods for manufacturing light emitting device, resin package and resin-molded body”;

U.S. Patent No. 7,432,589, entitled “Semiconductor device”; and

U.S. Patent No. 7,462,870, entitled “Molded package and semiconductor device using molded package”

The district court found the patents to be valid and that Everlight infringed all three patents.  However, the court denied Nichia’s request for a permanent injunction.  Everlight appealed on infringement and validity, while Nichia appealed the injunction decision.

On appeal, the important part of the Federal Circuit opinion relates to the law on injunctions in patent cases.

Current law on permanent injunctions for patent infringement comes from the Supreme Court’s eBay v. Mercexchange decision, which established the following four-factor test for determining whether to grant a permanent injunction:

(1) the patentee suffered an irreparable injury;

(2) remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for the injury;

(3) considering the balance of hardships between plaintiff and defendant, an equitable remedy is warranted; and

(4) the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.

Since the eBay decision, courts have typically granted a permanent injunction upon a determination that a balancing of all four factors weighed in favor of injunctive relief and the patentee proved either irreparable injury (factor 1) or no adequate remedy at law (factor 2).

Here, however, the Federal Circuit held that proof of irreparable injury is required for a permanent injunction, regardless of whether the patentee has an adequate legal remedy, elevating factor 1 above all the others.

The court of appeal did not find “clear error in the district court’s finding that Nichia failed to prove that it would suffer irreparable harm absent the injunction.”

“Because Nichia failed to establish one of the four equitable factors,” the Federal Circuit continued, “the [district] court did not abuse its discretion in denying Nichia’s request for an injunction.”

And with that conclusion, the Federal Circuit ended its analysis, declining to review the district court’s findings on monetary damages (factor 2):

Because we affirm the court’s conclusion on irreparable harm, we do not reach the adequacy of monetary damages.

This may represent a significant change in the law, where instead of considering and balancing all four factors, the courts require the patentee to satisfy all four elements to obtain injunctive relief.

Such a shift would make it more difficult for a patentee to get an injunction after proving infringement.

Brookings Institution Report Highlights Green Patent Problems

May 10th, 2017

A new report by the Brookings Institution notes a troubling recent reversal in U.S. green patenting activity.

Specifically, the report found that the total number of clean tech patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office between 2014 and 2016 declined by nine percent each year.  This after a long stretch of growth –  thirteen years of patent grants growing at a rate of seven percent annually between 2001 and 2014.

Here’s a graph from the report, based on data from the Cleantech PatentEdge database, run by our friends at IP Checkups:

Entitled “Patenting invention” Clean energy innovation trends and priorities for the Trump administration and Congress,” the report examined patterns in clean tech patenting since 2001, both nationally and by metropolitan area.

According to a Brookings Metro press release, the authors, Devashree Saha and Mark Muro, hope the report’s “baseline look at the pace and geography of cleantech innovation” will inform federal and local decision-making with respect to innovation policy.

The authors highlighted five key findings.  First, while green patenting has grown significantly since 2001, it may be slowing now.  This trend could be a result of funding declines by the federal government and venture capitalists over the past several years.

Second, green patenting is concentrated in a small group of technologies.  In particular, the report identifies advanced green materials, energy efficiency, and transportation (each accounting for 18% of the total) as having higher proportions of patents.

As for geography, the report concludes that green patenting is widely distributed across the United States, but large metropolitan areas are the source of a disproportionate share of the patenting activity.  Large and small metro areas show distinctive profiles in green patenting, varying in their specializations, the report found.

Finally, the report found that the share of clean tech patents owned by companies based outside the United States has grown over the years.  According to the Executive Summary, this trend reflects the globalization of clean tech industries, particular in Asian economies.

What does this mean for clean tech innovation and green patenting going forward?  Saha was quoted by Greentech Media, saying the data “raises concerns about the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. cleantech sector.”

Saha also said that the Trump administration’s plans to cut budgets for clean energy “could make this flattening a more permanent downward trend in the next few years.”

Muro commented on Trump’s budget proposal that would eliminate certain programs such as ARPA-E, the U.S. government’s energy innovation program, noting that “[t]here are critical [federal] programs that have major impacts on these industries and ecosystems.”

The report warns against the U.S. falling behind in clean tech innovation:

Given the size of the global clean energy economic opportunity, the United States can ill afford to relinquish its lead on innovation in the burgeoning global cleantech market to China or other countries.

The authors recommend that the U.S. maintain clean energy R&D appropriations at viable levels, maximize the impact of the national energy labs, preserve ARPA-E, and maintain and scale up U.S. energy innovation hubs.

Hybrid Vehicle Litigation Report: Paice’s Patent Progress

April 6th, 2017

l_paice

With its seminal patents and continual patent enforcement activity, hybrid vehicle technology company Paice has been a frequent subject of discussion in this space.  In fact, my first post almost ten years ago was about the company’s litigation with Toyota.

There have been a few recent developments to report.

First, in January Paice announced that it had settled its patent litigation with Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche.  The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, though Paice said it resolved all legal issues.  Paice had filed an infringement complaint against the German automakers in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in April 2016.

After that, Paice turned its attention back to Ford, filing a complaint against the American car manufacturer in the ITC in February.

The ITC complaint asserts that Ford’s hybrid vehicles infringe the following patents:

U.S. Patent No. 7,104,347, entitled “Hybrid vehicles” (‘347 Patent)

U.S. Patent No. 7,237,634, entitled “Hybrid vehicles”

U.S. Patent No. 7,455,134, entitled “Hybrid vehicles”

U.S. Patent No. 7,559,388, entitled “Hybrid vehicles” (‘388 Patent)

U.S. Patent No. 8,214,097, entitled “Hybrid vehicles”

The patents are directed to a hybrid electric vehicle controller and related methods for coordinating the operation of the electric motor and gasoline engine of a hybrid vehicle to maximize performance, fuel economy, and emissions efficiency.

Paice alleges that Ford’s hybrid vehicle powertrains and components in the Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Plug-in Hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid infringe one or more claims of each of the patents.

Paice and Ford have been involved in hybrid vehicle patent litigation in the past (see, e.g., a prior post here), and Ford has fought back on various fronts, including challenging the ‘347 Patent and the ‘388 Patent in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

After the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) invalidated several claims of each patent in separate decisions, Paice appealed those decisions.

Last month, Paice suffered two setbacks when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s IPR decisions on both the ‘347 Patent and the ‘388 Patent (347 Patent Opinion; 388 Patent Opinion).

In each case, the Federal Circuit rejected nearly all of Paice’s arguments regarding interpretation of certain key claim terms, disclosure of the prior art, and obviousness determinations, finding substantial evidence supported the Board’s findings and there was no error in its conclusions.  For the ‘388 Patent, however, the Federal Circuit reversed as to claim 3, finding the dependent claim did not need to fall with the independent claims.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

March 29th, 2017

Several new green patent complaints were filed in January and February in the areas of advanced batteries, waste-to-energy feedstocks, energy-efficient exercise equipment, and LEDs.

 

Advanced Batteries

Advanced Electrolyte Technologies LLC et al. v. ESDI LLC et al.

Advanced Electrolyte Technologies (AET) sued ESDI and several divisions of Samsung in a complaint filed January 18, 2017 in federal court in Austin, Texas.

AET alleges that the defendants infringe U.S. Patent No. 6,033,809 (‘809 Patent) and U.S. Patent No. 6,927,001 (‘001 Patent), which relate to electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries.

The ‘809 Patent is entitled “Lithium secondary battery and electrolyte thereof” and directed to non-aqueous electrolyte lithium secondary battery comprising a cathode, an anode and a non-aqueous electrolyte comprising an electrolyte dissolved in a non-aqueous solvent, wherein the solvent contains a cyclic carbonate, a linear carbonate, and a sultone derivative.

Entitled “Non-aqueous electrolyte solution and lithium secondary battery,” the ‘001 Patent is directed to non-aqueous electrolytic solution composed of two or more organic compounds dissolved in a solvent composed of a cyclic carbonate and a chain carbonate in which both of the organic compounds have a reduction potential higher than those of the cyclic and chain carbonates, and in which one of the organic compounds has a reduction potential equal to that of another organic compound or has a reduction potential lower or higher than that of another organic compound.

The complaint contains a long list of accused products including batteries used in the Samsung Chromebook 3 and 7 Spin, as well as batteries used in several Samsung Galaxy devices.

 

Somaltus LLC v. Cummins, Inc. et al.

Somaltus LLC v. Honeywell International, Inc.

Somaltus LLC v. Minn Kota, Inc.

Somaltus LLC v. Pro Charging Systems, LLC

Somaltus, a non-practicing entity, filed four new lawsuits on January 12, 2017, all federal court in Marshall, Texas, against Cummins (Somaltus v. Cummins), Honeywell (Somaltus v. Honeywell), Minn Kota (Somaltus v. Minn Kota), and Pro Charging Systems (Somaltus v. Pro Charging Systems).

Each suit asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,657,386, entitled “Integrated battery service system (‘386 Patent).

The ‘386 Patent is  directed to an integrated battery service system that performs a plurality of services related to a battery, such as battery testing, battery charging, and the like. In addition, the integrated service system provides services to devices/components that are coupled to the battery, such as starters, alternators, etc.

The accused products are the Cummins Energy Command (EC-30) power generation system, Honeywell’s 2.1 Amp Dual USB AC Charging Adapter, the 2.1 Amp Single USB AC Charging Adapter, and the Ovale 4.2 Amp Smart Charging Station, the Minn Kota Digital Onboard Charger, and the Pro Charging Systems Dual Pro Eagle Chargers.

 

Waste-to-energy Feedstocks

Accordant Energy, LLC v. Vexor Technology, Inc. et al.

In this lawsuit Accordant Energy accuses Vexor of infringing two patents relating to engineered feedstocks.

The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,062,268 and 9,523,051, each entitled “Engineered fuel feed stock” and directed to feed stocks for use as gasification and combustion fuels and methods of making the feed stocks.  Components derived from processed MSW waste streams are used to make the feed stocks, which are substantially free of glass, metals, grit and noncombustibles.

Filed February 28, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the complaint names Vexor Engineered Fuel as the accused product.

Energy-Efficient Exercise Equipment

Green Fitness Equipment Co. v. Precor Inc.

It’s not every day you see patent litigation involving green exercising technology, but this one is about exactly that.

In a complaint filed February 8, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Southern Distric of California, Green Fitness alleges that Precor has incorporated its patented invention into its EFC Elliptical Cross-trainer products that include Active Status Light technology.

The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent No. 8,884,553, entitled “Current monitor for indicating a condition of attached electrical apparatus” (‘553 Patent).

The ‘553 Patent is directed to a current monitor that indicates a condition of attached electrical equipment.  The current monitor can determine a predetermined range in which current being withdrawn by the attached electrical apparatus lies.  Based on the determined range, corresponding display electronic elements, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), can be activated.

The commercial embodiment of Green Fitness’s patented invention is its Treadmill Saver product.

LEDs

Metrospec Technology LLC v. Hubbell Lighting, Inc.

This lawsuit was filed February 3, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.  The complaint asserts three patents relating to high intensity flexible light circuits.

The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,143,631, 8,525,193 and 9,341,355, each entitled “Layered structure for use with high power light emitting diode systems.”

The asserted patents are directed to a layered structure comprising an electrically insulating intermediate layer interconnecting a top layer and a bottom layer.  The top layer, the intermediate layer, and the bottom layer form an at least semi-flexible elongate member which is bendable laterally to a radius of at least 6 inches, twistable relative to its longitudinal axis up to 10 degrees per inch, and bendable to conform to localized heat sink surface flatness variations having a radius of at least 1 inch.

Metrospec alleges that the NorFlex product offered by Hubbell’s Thomas Research Products division infringes the patents.

Unity Opto Technology Co. v. Cree, Inc.

Unity Opto Technology Co. v. Cree, Inc.

Unity Opto Technology (UOT) sued Cree twice in January, seeking a declaratory judgement that Cree’s U.S. Patent Nos. 8,596,819 (‘819 Patent), 8,628,214 (‘214) Patent),  8,998,444 (‘444 Patent) and 9,052,067 (‘067 Patent) are invalid and that UOT does not infringe the ‘067 Patent.

The ‘819 and ‘214 Patents are entitled “Lighting device and method of lighting” and directed to a lighting device which emits light with an efficacy of at least 60 lumens per watt, and up to at least 300 lumens in some embodiments, where the output light has a CRI Ra of at least 90.  The lighting device comprises at least one solid state light emitter, e.g., one or more light emitting diodes, and optionally further includes one or more lumiphor.

The ‘444 Patent is entitled “Solid state lighting devices including light mixtures” and directed to a solid state lighting apparatus including at least a first LED and a second LED.  The first LED emits light in the blue portion of the visible spectrum and red light in response to the blue light. The second LED emits light having a color point that is above the planckian locus of a 1931 CIE Chromaticity diagram, and in particular may have a yellow green, greenish yellow or green hue.

Entitled “LED lamp with high color rendering index,” the ‘067 Patent is directed to an LED lamp that can emit light with a color rendering index (CRI) of at least 90 without remote wavelength conversion.

The first complaint was filed January 3, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The second complaint was filed January 6, 2017 in the same court.

Solar Mounting Systems

Rillito River Solar, LLC v. Bamboo Industries LLC

In a lawsuit filed January 26, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Rillito sued Bamboo Industries LLC dba SolarHooks for alleged infringement of three patents relating to solar mounting systems.

The complaint lists SolarHooks’ Composition Flashing Kit as the accused product.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,153,700 (‘700 Patent), 9,134,044 (‘044 Patent) and 9,447,988 (‘988 Patent).

Entitled “Roofing system and method,” the ‘700 Patent is directed to a roof mounting system which includes a roof substrate and flashing supportable on the substrate and an outwardly extending projection having a concave interior side and an aperture extending through the projection between top and bottom surfaces of the flashing. A seal is provided that is conformable with the concave interior side and can define a seal aperture substantially aligned with the flashing aperture.

The ‘044 and ‘988 Patents are entitled “Roof mount assembly” and directed to a mount assembly which includes a flashing including an aperture, a bracket including a first portion and a second portion, the first portion having an opening and a countersink extending around the opening, the second portion extending at an angle away from the flashing, the second portion including a slot configured to be coupled to the structure, a fastener, and a seal extending around the aperture and positioned between the flashing and the first portion of the bracket, the seal engaging the countersink of the bracket and being compressed against the flashing.

Battery Conference to Offer a Full Day Battery IP Workshop

February 22nd, 2017

The 2017 National Battery (“NAAtBatt”) Annual Meeting and Conference, being held March 14-16 in Litchfield Park, Arizona, will include a full day session (“the first workshop its kind”) devoted to IP issues in advanced batteries.

The Workshop on Intellectual Property Issues in Advanced Battery Technology will cover several topics, including establishing an IP culture at advanced battery companies, patent prosecution in energy storage, licensing battery IP, patent pools and aggregators, advanced battery patent litigation, and big data in advanced battery IP.

The panelists include IP professionals from advanced battery technology companies as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transfer, ARPA-E, several national laboratories, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the European Patent Office.

The workshop web page notes that “[t]he advanced battery industry relies heavily on intellectual property rights” and:

The ability of innovators to protect and monetize their discoveries through intellectual property rights is essential for moving innovations from the laboratory into commerce.

The workshop will run for one day, Tuesday, March 14, concurrently with the first half day of the NAATBatt conference.  CLE credit is available for attorneys.

Attendees may register for the workshop only or for the entire conference.  Registration information can be found here.