Archive for the ‘Solar Patents’ category

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

February 13th, 2017

LED technology continues to dominate green patent litigation, with at least 18 new lawsuits filed in November and December of 2016.  Solar mounting systems and waste management each saw one new lawsuit during this period.

 

LEDs

OptoLum, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.

Filed November 3, 2016 in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona, OptoLum’s complaint asserts three patents against Cree.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,573,536, 6,831,303 and 7,242,028, each entitled “Light emitting diode light source.”  They relate to early (their priority date is May 2002) LED technology designed to provide sufficient light output to be used as a general lighting source rather than a signaling source.

The patents are directed to LEDs that emit white light.  The diodes are mounted on an elongate member which is thermally conductive and is utilized to cool the diodes.

The accused products are Cree LED bulbs from 2013 and 2014 that are replacements for 60W and 100W incandescents.

Analog Integrations Corporation v. MagnaChip Semiconductor Corporation

In this lawsuit, Analog Integrations sued MagnaChip for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,339,049, entitled “LED driving circuit having a large operational range in voltage” (‘049 Patent).

The ‘049 Patent is directed to an LED driving circuit including a current selecting circuit that controls the current transmission path in a plurality of LEDs according to respective threshold voltages of corresponding LEDs and a plurality of current limits.

Filed November 6, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the complaint accuses MagnaChip’s driving circuit Product Model No. MAP9000 of infringing the ‘049 Patent.

The Regents of the University of California v. Zlight Technology LLC

The University of California has sued Zlight Technology in a case involving transparent LED technology to enable LED filament-style light bulbs.

UC alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,781,789, entitled “Transparent mirrorless light emitting diode” (‘789 Patent).

The ‘789 Patent is directed to an (Al, Ga, In)N LED in which multi-directional light can be extracted from one or more surfaces of the LED before entering a shaped optical element and subsequently being extracted to air.  The optical element is molded into a sphere or inverted cone shape, wherein most of the light entering the inverted cone shape lies within a critical angle and is extracted.

The invention also minimizes internal reflections within the LED by eliminating mirrors and/or mirrored surfaces, in order to minimize re-absorption of the LED’s light by the emitting layer (or the active layer) of the LED.

Filed November 7, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the complaint lists a host of Zlight LED filament products alleged to infringe the ‘789 Patent.

Cree, Inc. v. E. Mishan & Sons, Inc.

Cree, Inc. v. Maxbrite LED Lighting Technology, LLC

Cree has asserted five utility patents and one design patent against E. Mishan & Sons in a lawsuit filed November 11, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 7,808,013, entitled “Integrated heat spreaders for light emitting devices (LEDs)

U.S. Patent No. 7,858,998, entitled “Semiconductor light emitting devices including flexible silicone film having a lens therein

U.S. Patent No. 8,167,463, entitled “Power surface mount light emitting die package”

U.S. Patent No. 8,622,582, entitled “Power surface mount light emitting die package”

U.S. Patent No. 9,070,850, entitled “Light emitting diode package and method for fabricating same”

U.S. Patent No. D615,504, entitled “Emitter package”

The accused products include flashlights such as the TACLIGHT tactical flashlight product.

The lawsuit against Maxbrite was filed November 18, 2016 in federal court in Oakland, California for both patent and trademark infringement.  For some reason, I haven’t been able to track down the complaint, but it appears to be, at least in part, a counterfeiting case (see LED Inside article here).

Tseng v. BBC International LLC et al.

On December 25, 2016, Shen Ko Tseng, an individual, filed this complaint in federal court in San Francisco against BBC International, Concept Technology, and Terry Electronics alleging infringement of an LED circuit patent.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,452,106, and 7,405,674, each entitled “Circuit device for controlling a plurality of light-emitting devices in a sequence” and directed to a circuit device for controlling light-emitting devices disposed in a sequence including a motion activated switch.  The controller is capable of driving the light-emitting diodes lighting up on the basis of a first predefined sequence and a consequent second predefined sequence when triggered by a motion-actuated switch.

The accused products are Batman, Thomas, Peanuts, and Spiderman branded LED illuminated shoes.

 

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Feit Electrical Company, Inc.

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Hyperikon, Inc.

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Sunco Lighting, Inc.

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Letianlighting, Inc.

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Halco Lighting Technologies, LLC

Blackbird Tech LLC v. CleanLife Energy LLC

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Evergreen LED, LLC

Blackbird Tech initiated several new lawsuits in the last two months of the year.  The first, against Letianlighting, was filed November 9, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The complaint asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,086,747, entitled “Low-voltage apparatus for satisfying after-hours light requirements, emergency light requirements, and low light requirements” (‘747 Patent).

The ‘747 Patent is directed to an energy efficient lighting apparatus wherein the circuit board is positioned adjacent the ballast cover so that the plurality of light-emitting diodes protrude through the plurality of ballast cover holes in the ballast cover, the lighting apparatus is coupled to a wall switch, and the illumination of the light-emitting diodes is controllable based upon the position of the wall switch.

The other seven complaints were filed December 8 and December 28, 2016, also in Delaware.  The patent in those 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 accused product in the Feit complaint (Blackbird Tech LLC v. Feit Electrical Company, Inc.) is the 60 Watt Equivalent Dimmable G25 Bulb; the Home Depot complaint (Blackbird Tech LLC v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.) lists the Ecosmart 60W LED Replacement bulbs and the Hampton Bay LED Low Voltage 20W Equivalent Spotlight; the accused product in the Hyperikon complaint (Blackbird Tech LLC v. Hyperikon, Inc.) is the Daylight Glow Par 16 bulb, and the Sunco complaint (Blackbird Tech LLC v. Sunco Lighting, Inc.) lists the 6 Watt Pure Efficiency Spot Light.

The accused products listed in the Evergreen complaint (Blackbird Tech v. Evergreen) are the Yigeda Solid State Lighting Chandelier bulbs.  The Cleanlife Energy complaint (Blackbird Tech v. Cleanlife Energy) lists the CleanLife 7W LED MR16 Spot Light, and the Halco complaint (Blackbird Tech v. Halco Lighting Technologies) lists the Halco Solid State Lighting Chandelier bulbs.

 

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Halco Lighting Technologies

Halco was also sued by LSG for allegedly infringing three patents whose commercial embodiment is LSG’s GLIMPSE lighting family of products.

The lawsuit asserts the following 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 was filed in federal court in Orlando, Florida on December 21, 2016.

 

Nichia Corporation v. Feit Electric Company, Inc.

Nichia Corporation v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC et al.

Nichia Corporation v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited et al.

Nichia Corporation v. Vizio, Inc.

Nichia filed four lawsuits in federal court in Marshall, Texas on December 27, 2016, each asserting U.S. Patent No. 9,490,411 (‘411 Patent) (Nichia Corporation v. Feit Electric Company, Inc.; Nichia Corporation v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC et al.Nichia Corporation v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited et al.Nichia Corporation v. Vizio, Inc.).

The ‘411 Patent is entitled “Light emitting device, resin package, resin-molded body, and methods for manufacturing light emitting device, resin package and resin-molded body” and directed to an LED manufacturing method in which a resin part and a lead are formed in a substantially same plane in an outer side surface, including sandwiching a lead frame provided with a notch part, transfer-molding a thermosetting resin containing a light reflecting material in a mold to form a resin-molded body in the lead frame, and cutting the resin-molded body and the lead frame along the notch part.

The accused Feit products include the Feit Electric 800 Lumen 3000K Dimmable LED, the LED Shop Light, the Dimmable Warm White LED Bulb, and the 40 W Equivalent Soft White Smart LED Bulb.

The accused Lowe’s products include the Utilitech 75 W Equivalent Par38 Warm White LED Flood Light Bulb, the 65 W Equivalent Dimmable Daylight LED Flood Light Bulb, and the 65 W Eqivalent Dimmable Soft White LED Flood Light Bulb.

The accused TCL and Vizio products are certain LED televisions.

 

Solar Mounting Systems

Rillito River Solar, LLC v. IronRidge Inc.

Rillito River Solar (dba EcoFastenSolar) sued IronRidge December 1, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The complaint alleges that IronRidge’s FlashFoot2 roof mounting system infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,526,701 (‘701 Patent).

Entitled “Roof mount,” the ‘701 Patent is directed to a roof mount including a base member, an attachment mount, and a spacer extending the base member to a roof surface. The base member has a protrusion, and the attachment mount defines a hollowed region for receiving the protrusion to form a compression fitting.  A substantially leak proof assembly is formed when the attachment mount is placed against the base member with a sealing material therebetween.

 

Waste Management

Pannell Manufacturing Corp. v. Smoker et al.

Pannell sued two individuals, Phillips Mushroom Farms, and E&H Conveyors for alleged infringement of three patents relating to mushroom composting.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,069,608, 8,205,379 and 8,561,344.  They are entitled “Mushroom compost compacting system and method” and are directed to systems and methods for compacting mushroom compost using a roller assembly mounted to a compost receptacle to form a nip, along with a web or conveyor to convey mushroom compost to and through the nip.  Mushroom compost is compacted to a particular height that can be adjusted by the user by adjusting the space between the roller and compost receptacle.

The complaint was filed December 2, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Keeping the Aisles Clear: Envision’s Parking Lot Solar Chargers Got Tracking!

February 9th, 2016

Envision logo

Envision Solar (Envision) is a San Diego-based company that makes solar parking structures that can be used to charge electric vehicles, support outdoor digital advertising, and enhance energy security.  What makes Envision’s products unique is that unlike most parking lot solar-powered vehicle charging stations, most of the company’s systems have the ability to track the movement of the sun.

According to Envision’s President and CEO Desmond Wheatley, 90% of Envision’s deployments have tracking capability.  Why tracking?  He echoed my thoughts exactly:  because it’s “cool.”

Also, parking lots are “hyper-restrained” in geography so a solar charger needs to maximize energy density in a very small space.  Incorporating tracking helps in that regard.

Envision’s two major product offerings are the Solar Tree® and the EV ARC™.  The company owns at least seven U.S. patents and pending applications covering various aspects of the technology in these products.

U.S. Patent No. 7,705,277 (‘277 Patent), issued in 2010, covers Envision’s original design.  Entitled “Sun tracking solar panels,” the ‘277 Patent is directed to a system for maximizing solar energy utilization by moving a solar panel to track movement of the sun from sunrise to sunset.  Movements of the solar panel are accomplished daily in accordance with a programmed schedule of consecutive cycles.

A subsequent patent issued in early 2014 is directed to a refined design better suited for solar tracking in a parking lot.  The system covered by U.S. Patent No. 8,648,551 (‘551 Patent) is significant, Wheatley said, because instead of the tracker causing the solar panel to swing in to the drive aisle, it instead bows.

According to the ‘551 Patent, the rotation of a cylindrical knuckle in the tracking system “allow[s] the solar panel to continuously reorient while maintaining a substantially stationary footprint.”

Wheatley told me the company’s most important intellectual property is that around the features of the EV ARC™.

Wheatley mentioned several advantageous features of the EV Arc.  First and foremost is its autonomy, i.e., it is not connected to the utility grid.  Some of the structural features are also important, including the ability for the thin base plate to support heavy vehicles and the high-traction material of the base plate, which allows it to remain stationary.

U.S. Patent No. 9,209,648, issued in November 2015, is entitled “Self-contained renewable battery charger” and is directed to a charging system (10) comprising a portable unit (12) that includes a moveable docking pad (16) having a base (18) and compartment (20) for holding a storage battery (18).

 

648 FIG 1

The portable unit (12) includes a column (24) having a first end (26) mounted onto the docking pad (16) and a second end (28).  A solar array (30) is affixed to the second end (28) of the column (24).  The unit has a structural canopy with a beam (32) and cross members (34) attached to the column (24) to support the photovoltaic modules of the solar array (30).

The company also has IP around the mobility and installation of its systems, including a specialized trailer and hydraulic ram, ARC™ Mobility, for transportation and deployment purposes.

Wheatley and Envision are very aware of the importance of patent protection in the U.S. and beyond.  The company’s patents, he said, “prevent smaller competitors from copying” their technology.  They also might stop larger customers from buying pirated products.  In general, a strong IP portfolio increases the company’s value in the investor community.

With investments of about $200 billion on EV charging, the company sees China as an important market and has filed patent applications there.  Wheatley told me that Chinese patents allow Envision to bring powerful partners aboard in China to protect the company’s business ventures there.

Envision Solar continues to innovate and isn’t stopping at car charging; they’re working on EV ARC™ eBike and eMotorcycle charging as well.  Many more patent applications will certainly follow.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

July 21st, 2015

Several new green patent complaints were filed in May and June in the areas of LEDs, smart grid, and solar power including solar mounting systems and solar powered lanterns.

 

LEDs

Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. iGuzzini Lighting USA, Ltd. et al.

On May 22, 2015, Philips sued iGuzzini for infringement of five patents relating to LEDs and LED lighting devices.  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New York.  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. 6,250,774, entitled “Luminaire”

U.S. Patent No. 6,577,512, entitled “Power supply for LEDs”

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

U.S. Patent No. 7,802,902, entitled “LED lighting fixtures”

The accused products are iGuzzini’s Laser Blade, Primopiano-LED, Woody LED, and Palco LED lines.

 

Lynk Labs, Inc. v. Juno Lighting LLC et al.

Illinois-based Lynk Labs recently sued Juno Lighting for patent infringement, correction of inventorship, and breach of contract.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,531,118, entitled “AC light emitting diode and AC LED drive methods and apparatus”(‘118 Patent) and 8,841,855, entitled “LED circuits and assemblies” (‘855 Patent).

Lynk Labs also has requested that the court correct the inventorship of Juno’s U.S. Patent No. 7,909,499, entitled “LED track lighting module” and U.S. Design Patent No. D579,144, entitled “L.E.D. light source cover” to include one or more officers or employees of Lynk Labs as co-inventors.

Finally, Lynk Labs alleges that Juno breached a 2006 Non-disclosure Agreement between the parties.

 

Smart Grid

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Nexgrid, LLC

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Freewave Technologies, Inc.

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Zenner Performance Meters, Inc.

Endeavor MeshTech (a wholly-owned subsidiary of patent monetization firm Endeavor IP) continued its patent enforcement campaign, filing three more lawsuits in May and June.

The first was filed against Nexgrid in federal court in Richmond, Virginia on May 5, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Nexgrid), the second against Freewave Technologies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on June 16, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Freewave), and the third against Zenner Performance Meters in federal court in Marshall, Texas on June 23, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Zenner).

The first two complaints accuse each Nexgrid and Freewave, respectively, of infringing three patents in a family – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,379,981 (‘981 Patent),  8,700,749 (‘749 Patent), and 8,855,019 (‘019 Patent), each entitled “Wireless communication enabled meter and network.”  The complaint against Zenner asserts only the ‘749 and ‘019 Patents.

The patents-in-suit relate to a self-configuring wireless network including a number of vnodes and VGATES.

The accused products and services are Nexgrid products sold under the Nexgrid Technology Solutions brand name, Freewave’s Comprehensive High-Speed Wireless M2M Communications Solution sold under the WavePoint brand name, and Zenner’s Stealth and MeshPlus branded products and services.

 

Solar Power

D Three Enterprises, LLC v. Sunmodo Corporation

D Three Enterprises, LLC v. Rillito River Solar LLC

On June 2, 2015 D Three filed two patent infringement suits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

In the first (D Three Enterprises v. Sunmodo), D Three accuses Sunmodo of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517 (‘517 Patent) and 8,707,655 (‘655 Patent), both relating to involving sealing assemblies for roof-mounted solar panels.

The ‘517 and ‘655 Patents are related patents, each entitled “Roof mount sealing assembly” and directed to roof mount sealing assemblies that allow a user to mount rails for solar panels, signs, satellite dish or any other desired item on the roof and have the mounting location sealed against water.

The accused Sunmodo products are the EZ Mount assembly with Standoff for Shingle Roofs and the EZ Mount L-Foot Kit for Shingle Roofs.

The D Three complaint against Rillito asserts only the ‘517 Patent and alleges that Rillito’s (dba EcoFasten Solar) QuikFoot Roof Mount System with P-3-CSK Compression Post infringes the patent.

 

Allsop, Inc. v. Jetmax Ltd.

Allsop, a manufacturer of various consumer products including collapsible solar power lanterns, sued Hong Kong-based Jetmax for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,657,461 (‘461 Patent).

The ‘461 Patent is 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.

Filed May 29, 2015 in federal court in Seattle, Washington, the complaint alleges that Jetmax’s Nylon Solar Hanging Lantern infringes the ‘461 Patent.

 

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

November 19th, 2014

Several new green patent lawsuits were filed in the last couple of months in the areas of LEDs, smart grid technologies, concentrated solar power, solar inverters, green dry cleaning solvents, and water treatment.

 

LEDs

Cree, Inc. v. Harvatek Corporation et al.

North Carolina LED maker Cree filed a couple of patent infringement suits in September and October.  In the first, Cree sued Harvatek for alleged infringement of six patents relating to white light LED technology.  The complaint was filed September 15, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Three of the asserted patents are of a first patent family and share the same title.  Another two are part of a second family and share a title.  The patents-in-suit are as follows:

U.S. Patent No. 6,600,175, entitled “Solid state white light emitter and display using same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,943,945, entitled “Solid state white light emitter and display using same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,659,034, entitled “Solid state white light emitter and display using same” (‘034 Patent)

U.S. Patent No. 7,910,938, entitled “Encapsulant profile for light emitting diodes” (‘938 Patent)

U.S. Patent No. 8,766,298, entitled “Encapsulant profile for light emitting diodes” (‘298 Patent)

U.S. Patent No. 8,362,605, entitled “Apparatus and method for use in mounting electronic elements”

The complaint alleges that a number of Harvatek’s white LED products infringe the patents.

Cree, Inc. v. Honeywell International Inc.

The second suit accuses Honeywell of infringing the ‘034, ‘938, and ‘298 Patents as well as U.S. Patent No. 8,860,058, entitled “Solid state white light emitter and display using same.”

Filed in the Western District of Wisconsin on October 28, 2014, the complaint alleges that Honeywell’s Automation and Control Systems and Aerospace business units are selling infringing products using Cree’s patent white LED technology for backlighting.

The accused products include liquid crystal display devices in Honeywell’s Aviation Lighting and Cockpit Displays, Environment & Combustion Controls, Scanning and Mobility devices, and Measurement and Control Systems as well as certain programmable thermostat products.

Smart Grid

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. EnergyHub, Inc.

On October 14, 2014, Endeavor MeshTech (a wholly-owned subsidiary of patent monetization firm Endeavor IP) filed a patent infringement complaint against Brooklyn-based EnergyHub in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The complaint (Endeavor complaint part_1Endeavor complaint part_2) accuses EnergyHub of infringing three patents in a family – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,379,981  8,700,749, and 8,855,019, each entitled “Wireless communication enabled meter and network.”  The patents-in-suit relate to a self-configuring wireless network including a number vnodes and VGATES.

According to the complaint, EnergyHub’s self-configuring wireless network marketed and sold under the name of its Mercury platform infringe the patents.

 

Concentrated Solar Power

Schott Solar CSP GmbH v. SkyFuel, Inc. et al.

Schott filed suit against SkyFuel and Weihai Golden Solar October 23, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.  The complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,013,887 (‘887 Patent) relating to solar absorption receivers used in certain concentrated solar power (CSP) applications.

Entitled “Absorber pipe for solar heating applications,” the ‘887 Patent is directed to an absorber pipe having a central metal pipe, a sleeve tube, folding bellows, and an expansion compensation device that connects the metal pipe and sleeve tube so that they can slide relative to each other.

According to the complaint, the defendants sell infringing receivers and/or build and install CSP plants incorporating infringing receivers.

 

Solar Inverters

Enphase Energy, Inc. v. SolarBridge Technologies, Inc.

Inverter maker Enphase Energy sued SolarBridge, alleging infringement of three patents relating to solar inverter technology.  The complaint was filed October 10, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,768,155 and 8,035,257, both entitled “Method and apparatus for improved burst mode during power conversion” and U.S. Patent No. 7,986,122, entitled “Method and apparatus for power conversion with maximum power point tracking and burst mode capability.”

The patents relate to systems and methods for converting DC power generated by solar panels to AC power for the electric grid and includes methodology for storing energy and drawing energy during burst periods and controlling burst modes to improve efficiency in low sunlight conditions.

The accused products are SolarBridge’s Pantheon microinverter and TrueAC module.

Green Dry Cleaning Solvents

GreenEarth Cleaning, L.L.C. v. Glyndon Laundry, Inc. d/b/a Glyndon Lord Baltimore Cleaners

Filed September 22, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, GreenEarth’s complaint accuses Glyndon of, among other things, patent and trademark infringement.

GreenEarth alleges that Glyndon is infringing its “base” patent – U.S. Patent No. 5,942,007 (‘007 Patent) – as well as nine other patents which are “variations” of the ‘007 Patent.  The ‘007 Patent is entitled “Dry cleaning method and solvent” and directed to methods of dry cleaning clothes using a cleaning fluid including a cyclic siloxane composition.

GreenEarth also accuses Glyndon of infringing its trademarks including its leaf and water droplet logo:

According to the complaint, GreenEarth licensed its trademarks and patented processes to Glyndon, but Glyndon stopped paying the requisite fees after August 2013 and continued to use the licensed intellectual property.

Water Treatment

Deerpoint Group, Inc. v. Acqua Concepts, Inc. (DBA Ag Water Chemical of California)

Deerpoint, a provider of water treatment solutions for the agriculture industry, sued Acqua and two former Deerpoint employees in federal court in Fresno, California.

Filed September 25, 2014, the complaint accuses Acqua of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 6,238,573 (‘573 Patent) and 7,638,064 (‘064 Patent) and alleges that its former employees misappropriated trade secrets including confidential products and services, client lists, and pricing information.

The ‘573 Patent is entitled “Water treatment” and directed to a process for producing chlorine for water treatment including blending calcium hypochlorite and water  to form a saturated solution of calcium hypochlorite and a sink of calcium hypochlorite and feeding chlorinated water to a water supply.

The ‘064 Patent is verbosely titled “Continuously feeding chlorine to the irrigation system, monitoring an outer field point to determine whether at least a detectable level of residual chlorine is seen at that point, whereby chlorination disinfection system-wide is achieved.”

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 11th, 2014

As with many things, July and August were slow months for green patent litigation.  However, a handful of green patent complaints were filed in the last two months in the areas of solar power, green chemicals, smart meters, and, of course, LEDs.

 

Solar Power

Conlin v. Solarcraft, Inc.

Kevin L. Conlin sued Solarcraft on July 2, 2014 in federal court in Houston, Texas.  The complaint alleges that several patents relating to portable solar power units are invalid or unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.  Conlin further alleges that he should have been named as an inventor on the patents.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 7,832,253, entitled “Portable weather resistant gas chromatograph system”

U.S. Patent No. 7,843,163, entitled “Portable weather resistant enclosure”

U.S. Patent No. 7,750,502, entitled “Portable weather resistant flow meter system”

U.S. Patent No. 7,795,837, entitled “Portable solar power supply trailer with a security containment area and multiple power interfaces”

U.S. Patent No. 7,880,333, entitled “Method for weather resistant portable flow metering”

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. v. SunEdison, Inc.

A previous post discussed du Pont’s solar paste patent litigation with Heraeus and another post detailed the parties’ subsequent legal wrangling over a press release and customer letters du Pont wrote about the litigation.

Armed with a new solar paste patent, du Pont has sued SunEdison.  Filed August 21, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Du Pont’s complaint accuses SunEdison of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,497,420 (‘420 Patent).

The ‘420 Patent is entitled “Thick-film pastes containing lead- and tellurium-oxides, and their use in the manufacture of semiconductor devices” an directed to a thick-film paste for printing the front-side of a solar cell having one or more insulating layers.  The thick-film paste comprises an electrically conductive metal and a lead-tellurium-oxide dispersed in an organic medium.

Green Chemicals

Koch Agronomic Services, LLC v. Eco Agro Resources, LLC

In this lawsuit over a treatment agent for fertilizer, Koch accuses Eco Agro of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,698,003 (‘003 Patent).  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on August 13, 2014.

The ‘003 Patent is entitled “Formulation for fertilizer additive concentrate” and directed to solvent systems for the formulation of certain urease inhibitors. These formulations enable the preparation of stable concentrated solutions for storage, transportation, and impregnation onto solid urea fertilizers and incorporation into liquid urea fertilizers.

According to the complaint, Eco Agro’s N-YIELD product, an environmentally-friendly urease inhibitor used to treat urea-based fertilizers, infringes the ‘003 Patent.

Smart Meters

Sensor-Tech Innovations LLC v. CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC

On July 16, 2014 Sensor-Tech sued CenterPoint for patent infringement in federal court in Marshall, Texas.  According to the complaint, CenterPoint’s Advanced Metering System infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,505,086 (‘086 Patent).

Entitled “XML sensor system,” the ‘086 Patent is directed to a sensor communication system comprising an array of sensors adapted to transmit sensor data in XML format.

LEDs

Koninklijke Philips N.V.  et al. v. JST Performance, Inc.

Philips has asserted eleven LED patents against JST in an infringement action filed July 23, 2014 in federal court in Orlando, Florida.

According to the complaint, the patents are infringed by JST products in the A-Series, D-Series, E-Series, SR-Series, SR-M, SR-Q, RDS Series, Q-Series, and Wake Flame product lines, and LED products used in LED Lighting Devices such as dome lights, deck lights, driving lights, fog lights, light bars, spotlights, floodlights, diffused lights, and marine lighting products.

The asserted patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,250,774, entitled “Luminaire”

U.S. Patent No. 6,561,690, entitled “Luminaire based on the light emission of light-emitting diodes”

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

U.S. Patent No. 6,692,136, entitled “LED/phosphor-LED hybrid lighting systems”

U.S. Patent No. 6,788,011, entitled “Multicolored LED lighting method and apparatus”

U.S. Patent No. 6,806,659, entitled “Multicolored LED lighting method and apparatus”

U.S. Patent No. 6,967,448, entitled “Methods and apparatus for controlling illumination”

U.S. Patent No. 7,030,572, entitled “Lighting arrangement”

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

U.S. Patent No. 7,348,604, entitled “Light-emitting module”

U.S. Patent No. 7,566,155, entitled “LED light system”

 

Seoul Semiconductor Co. v. Curtis International Ltd.

Filed July 22, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Seoul’s 7-patent complaint accuses Curtis’s LED televisions sold under the Proscan brand name of infringement.

The following patents are listed in the complaint:

U.S. Patent No. 8,314,440, entitled “Light emitting diode chip and method of fabricating the same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,964,943, entitled “Light emitting device”

U.S. Patent No. 7,626,209, entitled “Light emitting diode having active region of multi quantum well structure”

U.S. Patent No. 7,572,653, entitled “Method of fabricating light emitting diode”

U.S. Patent No. 6,942,731, entitled “Method for improving the efficiency of epitaxially produced quantum dot semiconductor components”

U.S. Patent No. 6,473,554, entitled “Lighting apparatus having low profile”

U.S. Patent No. 6,007,209, entitled “Light source for backlighting”

Can Ultrasolar’s Patented Pyrotechnics Boost Solar Cell Efficiency?

September 18th, 2013

Ultrasolar Technology is a Silicon Valley startup that has developed a pyroelectric device to boost solar cell efficiency.

We all know what “pyro” means, but what is “pyroelectric” all about?  According to this Greentech Media piece, which provides a helfpul overview of Ultrasolar’s methodology, “[p]yroelectricity converts heat to [an] electric field.”

One of Ultrasolar’s patents says this:

Pyroelectric materials may generate electrical energy (e.g., temporary voltage) when they are subjected to a change in temperature (e.g., heated or cooled).

More to the point, Ultrasolar’s technology draws “hot” electrons, which would normally lose their energy in the crystal structure of the solar cell, to the solar cell’s electrodes, thereby increasing the power produced from the cell (and the modules).

Ultrasolar owns at least five U.S. patents and applications relating to its pyroelectric technology.  According to Cleantech PatentEdge™, the company also owns two international, or PCT, applications.

U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2011/0232734 is entitled “Pyroelectric solar technology apparatus and method” and directed to methods of increasing solar cell efficiency by depositing pyroelectric film on a cell (‘734 Application).

In its basic embodiment, the ‘734 Application describes a solar cell (102) having a transparent pyroelectric film (104) on its front surface and an opaque pyroelectric film (106) on its back surface.  The transparent pyroelectric film (104) may be applied onto a resistor (108) placed on the front surface of the cell, and an ohmic contact (110) placed on the transparent film (104).

According to the ‘734 Application, heating of the transparent pyroelectric film (104) and/or the opaque pyroelectric film (106) generates an electromotive force to bias the solar cell (102), thereby creating an open circuit voltage.  Moreover, heat from the sun or waste heat can cause current in the pyroelectric material (104, 106), thus increasing the total current of the solar cell (102).

According to U.S. Patent No. 8,324,783, the pyroelectric material may produce electric charge when subjected to a change in temperature over time.

The ‘734 Application explains that a temporal temperature gradient may be generated on the solar cell (102) through a standing infrared wave through the pyroelectric films or using pyroelectric films of varying specific heats and conductivities at a front and/or back of the solar cell.

What are these pyroelectric materials that seem so promising?  The ‘734 Application lists a bunch:

In one or more embodiments, transparent pyroelectric film 104 may comprise of a polyvinylidene fluoride, a tri-glycerin sulphate, a lead zirconatetitanate, a stannic titanate, a lithium tantalate, lithium niobate, aluminum nitride, titanium aluminum nitride, barium titanate, and/or barium strontium titanate. In one or more embodiments, opaquepyroelectric film 106 may comprise of a polyvinylidene fluoride, a tri-glycerin sulphate, a lead zirconatetitanate, a stannic titanate, a lithium tantalate, lithium niobate, aluminum nitride, titanium aluminum nitride, barium titanate, and/or barium strontium titanate.

The Greentech Media story says Ultrasolar is hoping to use these pyroelectric materials to boost solar module efficiency by 20 percent.

Green Patent Acquisitions: Dow Meshes with NuvoSun

March 18th, 2013

 

Thin-film solar startup NuvoSun was recently acquired by Dow Chemical.  Founded in 2008 by former MiasSole CEO Dave Pearce, NuvoSun designs PV cells and modules based on flexible Copper Indium/Gallium di- Selenide (CIGS) technology.

NuvoSun owns at least two pending U.S. patent applications, Publication Nos. 2011/0300661 (‘661 Application) and 2012/0174967 (‘967 Application).  The ‘661 Application is entitled “Solar cell interconnection method using a flat metallic mesh” and directed to methods of interconnecting thin film solar cells using metallic meshes.

Both grids (2a, 3a) of the flat metallic mesh incude a solid region, or tab (4), to make the interconnection between solar cells, and a mesh region (5), which forms the current collecting grid.  The mesh region (5) includes connected wire-like elements (6) with square or rectangular cross sectional shape.

Mesh region (5) has open patterns that may range from narrow diamonds (2a) to nearly perfect squares (3a).  According to the ‘661 Application, an advantage of this invention is that from any point in the mesh there are multiple paths to the tab (4) whereas for conventional grids there is only a single line.  Therefore, the net resistance for the mesh is lower than for conventional grids of similar geometry.

The ‘967 Application is entitled “Photovoltaic modules and mounting systems” and directed to PV modules including a support member (300) for supporting one or more PV cells.  The support member (300) includes hexagonal though holes (301).  A slot (304) defined in the support member (300) accepts an electrical attachment member for coupling a PV module to an electrical bus bar.

The ‘967 Application also describes and claims a mounting frame (800) including two outer horizontal support members (801), an inner horizontal support member (802), a support member (803) orthogonal to the outer and inner support members, and vertical support members (804).  The  innter horizontal support member (802) is configured to hold an electrical bus bar.

According to this Greentech Media article, the NuvoSun technology is probably “destined for Dow’s solar shingles,” the building-integrated PV product Dow has been promising.

New Lawsuit to Decide Fairness of Solar Paste Patent PR

March 14th, 2013

In an interesting case of ancillary legal wrangling, DuPont has filed a declaratory judgment (DJ) action asking an Oregon federal court to declare that the company’s press release and customer letters about its patent infringement suit against Heraeus Precious Metals (Heraeus) does not violate unfair competition laws.

The DuPont DJ complaint describes a dispute arising from a press release and customer letters the company disseminated shortly after suing Heraeus for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,158,504 (‘504 Patent) in Portland, Oregon in June 2012 (see the complaint here).  The ‘504 Patent is entitled “Conductive compositions and processes for use in the manufacture of semiconductor devices – organic medium components.”

DuPont also sued Heraeus back in September 2011 in Delaware for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,767,254, entitled “Paste for solar cell electrode and solar cell” (see the complaint here).

According to the DJ complaint, the press release at issue, dated July 19, 2012, stated:

The company recently filed two lawsuits against PV metallization paste supplier Heraeus and one against its customer Solar World, for infringing on DuPont patents for DuPont Solamet PV metallization pastes.

The customer letters said that:

DuPont Microcircuit Materials has recently filed two lawsuits in the U.S. against PV paste supplier Heraeus for infringing on its patents for Solamet photovoltaic metallization pastes and one against its customer SolarWorld for using “infringing” materials.

Both the press release and the letters editorialized as follows:

Intellectual Property (IP) theft [] is widespread and the issue seems to be growing in the current climate of [this] industry.  [IP theft] has the potential to threaten the [PV] industry broadly at a critical time in its development.

According to the DJ complaint, in the Oregon patent infringement suit Heraeus filed a counterclaim against DuPont for unfair competition, asserting that the statements in the press release and customer letters were false and misleading. 

The counterclaim was subsequently dismissed, but the DJ complaint says that Heraeus’s counsel recently told DuPont that Heraeus intended to assert an unfair competition claim in the Delaware court.

This is not the first time ancillary litigation has erupted over PR in connection with a green patent infringement suit.  Several years ago, Nichia sued its LED rival Seoul Semiconductor for false advertising when Seoul disseminated press releases saying it had “substantially prevailed” in its litigation with Nichia, when in fact, it was found to have infringed four Nichia design patents.

Green Patent Lit Report: Neste Stayed Pending Reexam; Solannex Consolidated, Not Certified

February 19th, 2013

There have been some recent developments in the green patent infringement suits we’ve been covering.

 

First, in Neste Oil v. Dynamic Fuels, Syntroleum and Tyson Foods (see previous post here) the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted defendant Syntroleum’s motion to stay the litigation pending reexamination of the asserted patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). 

The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent No. 8,187,344 (‘344 Patent), entitled “Fuel composition for a diesel engine” and directed to diesel fuels made from animal, plant, or fish fatty acids.

The court acknowledged that delayed resolution of the case under reexam could prejudice Neste.  However, ultimately the court found the likelihood of simplifying the issues for litigation and the early stage of the court proceedings weighed in favor of a stay:

[T]here is reason to believe that the PTO’s reexamination will result in the cancellation of at least some of the claims.  To the extent that such cancellation does occur…the litigation necessarily will be simplified.

* * *

The present case is in its earliest stages –“the reexamination request was filed prior to any scheduling order being in place, less than three months after litigation began, and before Defendants’ answers were due, and where the parties have incurred little, if any, resources with respect to scheduling, discovery disputes, or motion practice.”

One important consideration was the fact that a related Neste patent – U.S. Patent No. 7,279,018 – had all of its claims canceled in a prior PTO reexamination.

 

In Solannex v. Miasole, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California consolidated two separate infringement actions involving solar cell interconnection structures (see previous posts here and here).

The cases involve four patents:

U.S. Patent No. 7,635,810, entitled “Substrate and collector grid structures for integrated photovoltaic arrays and process of manufacturing such arrays” (’810 Patent);

U.S. Patent No. 7,868,249, entitled “Substrate and collector grid structures for integrated series connected photovoltaic arrays and process of manufacture of such arrays” (‘249 Patent);

U.S. Patent No. 8,076,568, entitled “Collector grid and interconnect structures for photovoltaic array and modules” (‘568 Patent); and

U.S. Patent No. 8,110,737, entitled “Collector grid electrode structures and interconnect structures for photovoltaic arrays and methods of manufacture” (‘737 Patent).

The court denied the parties’ motion under Federal Rule 54(b) to certify for appeal a stipulated judgment of non-infringement of the ‘810 and ‘249 Patents.  Because claim construction has not yet occurred for the ‘568 and ‘737 Patents, the court held it was premature for appeal of the rulings on the ‘810 and ‘249 Patents:

Claim construction for the ‘568 and ‘737 patents has not yet taken place.  If the court were to certify the claim construction of the ‘810 and ‘249 patents, it is likely that the parties would appeal claim construction of the same terms at a later date, requiring the appellate court to decide the same issues – or at least similar – more than once.  Because this is exactly the type of piecemeal appeal Rule 54(b) was designed to prevent, the parties joint request for entry of judgment and certification must be denied.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 18th, 2012

 

A number of green patent complaints have been filed in the last several weeks in the areas of biofuels, LEDs, and solar mounting systems.

 

Biofuels

Gevo, Inc. v. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo, Inc.

Add another two actions to the mega-litigation between these advanced biofuels rivals.   On August 13, 2012 Gevo filed another declaratory judgment action, this time for invalidity and non-infringement of Butamax’s U.S. Patent No. 8,241,878 (‘878 Patent). 

The ‘878 Patent is entitled “Recombinant yeast host cell with Fe-S cluster proteins and methods of using thereof” and directed to methods for the conversion of 2,3-dihydroxyisovalerate to alpha-ketoisovalerate using recombinant yeast host cells expressing a heterologous dihydroxy-acid dehydratase (DHAD) protein.  Gevo’s complaint was filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

Butamax fired back the next day with a patent infringement complaint in the District of Delaware asserting the ‘878 Patent. 

These latest complaints bring the total number of actions between Gevo and Butamax to 12, with 10 patents asserted.

 

Danisco US Inc. v. Novozymes A/S

Filed August 27, 2012 in the Northern District of Iowa and the Northern District of California, Danisco’s complaint (see the Cal complaint here) seeks a declaratory judgment that the company’s Rapid Starch Liquefaction alpha-amylase products do not infringe Novozymes’s U.S. Patent No. 8,252,573 (‘573 Patent) and that the ‘573 Patent is invalid. 

In the alternative, Danisco is asking the court for a determination that its U.S. Patent No. 8,084,240 (‘240 Patent) has priority over the ‘573 Patent.  The ‘573 Patent  is entitled “Alpha-amylase variant with altered properties” and is directed to an isolated variant polypeptide having alpha amylase activity and containing a substitution of glutamic acid for proline at position 188.

The ‘240 Patent is entitled “Geobacillus stearothermophilus alpha-amylase (AMYS) variants with improved properties” and directed to an isolated variant of a truncated Geobacillus stearothermophilus enzyme containing a substitution of glutamic acid for proline at position 188 and exhibiting increased viscocity reduction in a starch liquefaction assay.

Danisco asserts that the named inventors on the ‘240 Patent conceived of and reduced to practice the invention before Novozymes filed any patent claim to the Geobacillus stearothermophilus alpha-amylase variant.

Last year, Novozymes won an $18 million jury verdict against Danisco for infringement of a patent directed to certain alpha amylase variants.

 

LEDs

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Lighting Science Group Corp.

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Osram Sylvania Inc.

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Feit Electric Company, Inc.

In three actions filed on August 21, 2012 in the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accuses Lighting Science Group (Lexington-LSG Complaint), Osram Sylvania (Lexington-Osram Complaint) and Feit Electric Company (Lexington-Feit Complaint) of patent infringement. 

The asserted patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851, is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing same” and directed to an LED device having a lattice mismatch system of etched trenches in the substrate and a layer including inclined lower portions to guide lattice defects away from propagating into the active layer of the LED.

The accused products are Lighting Science’s EcoSmart 8-watt GP19 and A19 LED bulbs, Sylvania’s 8-watt A19 LED bulb, and Feit’s 7.5 watt A19 and Utilitech Pro LED bulbs.

 

Cooper Lighting, LLC v. Cree, Inc. et al.

Georgia-based Cooper Lighting filed this patent infringement action against North Carolina LED maker Cree and Wisconsin-based Ruud Lighting on September 7, 2012 in federal court in Atlanta. 

The complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,210,722, entitled “LED device for wide beam generation” and directed to an LED apparatus including an LED in a plane, an optic having a first lobe and a second lobe wherein the optic is oriented with respect to the LED such that the first lobe is on a first side of the plane and the second lobe is on the second side of the plane, wherein the optic is operable to receive light emitted by the light emitting diode and is operable to form the received light into a three-dimensional distribution of light that the plane intersects.

 

Solar  Mounting Systems

Sunmodo Corp. v. Unirac, Inc.

This declaratory judgment action was filed by a Washington state solar rack and mounting company called Sunmodo against its New Mexico competitor Unirac.  The complaint, filed August 8, 2012 in federal court in Tacoma, Washington, requests a declaratory judgment that Sunmodo’s Ez Roof Mount does not infinge U.S. Patent No. 8,128,044 (‘044 Patent) and that the ‘044 Patent is invalid.

The ‘044 Patent is entitled “System for mounting a photovoltaic module to a surface” and directed to a system for mounting a photovoltaic module to a surface comprising a rail with at least two tracks, each having a channel, the rail being removably mountable to a footing grid, a plurality of keepers on which to mount the rail, and one or more clamps for connecting a photovoltaic module to the rail.

According to the complaint, Unirac’s counsel sent Sunmodo a letter in May entitled “Infringement of the U.S. Patent No. 8,128,044”  in which Unirac alleged that the Ez Roof Mount infringes the ‘004 Patent, and the letter included a claim chart comparing elements of the product with claims of the ‘044 Patent.