Exploring the Carbon Royalty Model

November 27th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

In a previous post, John D. Vandenberg, a patent litigator in Portland, Oregon, laid out his vision of a carbon royalty:  using patents directly for the public good, by imposing a royalty to reduce carbon emissions.

A detailed discussion of the model can be found here in his Carbon Royalty Slide Deck and is illustrated below.


If you’re interested in exploring this idea please e-mail Mr. Vandenberg at patentsforthepublicgood@gmail.com.


Cleantech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

November 16th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

A number of new green patent complaints were filed in September and October in the fields of battery chargers, green cleaning products, LEDs, smart grid, solar mounting systems, and water conservation.


Battery Chargers

VoltStar Technologies, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility, LLC

VoltStar sued AT&T October 19, 2016 alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,910,833 (‘833 Patent) and 7,910,834 (‘834 Patent) relating to an energy saving power adapter/charger and accompanying cables.

The ‘833 Patent is entitled “Energy-saving power adapter/charger” and the ‘834 Patent is entitled “Energy saving cable assemblies.”   According to the complaint, the patents pertain to a battery charger and accompanying cables “that automatically shuts off when a device is fully charged or not plugged in, eliminating ‘vampire load.’ This feature reduces power consumption and extends battery life.”

The accused product is the AT&T ZERO Charger and accompanying cables..


Green Cleaning Products

Greenology Products, Inc. v. HealthPro Brands Inc.

A North Carolina company called Greenology Products sued HealthPro Brands in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Filed September 13, 2016, the complaint alleges that HealthPro’s FIT Organic cleaning products infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,217,127, entitled “Organic cleaning composition” (‘127 Patent).

The ‘127 Patent is directed to an organic cleaning mixture comprising from about five percent (5%) to about ninety five percent (95%) by weight soapberry extract, from about 0.1% to about 95% percent (95%) by weight saponified oil, and from about 0.5% to about thirty percent (30%) by weight of one or more of sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, an alkali, and combinations thereof.



Seoul Semiconductor Co. et al. v. K-mart Corporation

In a lawsuit filed September 9, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Seoul sued K-mart for infringement of eight LED patents:

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

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

U.S. Patent No. 7,982,207, entitled “Light emitting diode”

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

U.S. Patent No. 7,906,789, entitled “Warm white light emitting apparatus and back light module comprising the same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,951,626, entitled “Light emitting device and method of manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,664,638, entitled “Light-emitting diode having an interlayer with high voltage density and method for manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,860,331, entitled “Light emitting device for AC power operation”

U.S. Patent No. 9,240,529, entitled “Textured phosphor conversion layer light emitting diode”

The accused product is Spotlight’s Kodak LED Lighting Bulb 41063,


ilumisys, Inc. v. Woodforest Lighting Inc.

This lawsuit involves eleven patents relating to tubular LED replacements for fluorescent lighting tubes.

The complaint was filed September 15, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and accuses Forest’s MT8-120 and Univ8 TLED products of infringing the following patents:

U.S. Patent No. 8,093,823, entitled “Light sources incorporating light emitting diodes”

U.S. Patent No. 8,382,327, entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 7,976,196, entitled “Method of forming LED-based light and resulting LED-based light”

U.S. Patent No. 9,072,171,  entitled “Circuit board mount for LED light”

U.S. Patent No. 7,815,338,  entitled “LED lighting unit including elongated heat sink and elongated lens”

U.S. Patent No. 9,006,993,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 9,222,626,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 8,866,396,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 7,510,299,  entitled “LED lighting device for replacing fluorescent tubes”

U.S. Patent No. 8,282,247,  entitled “Method of forming LED-based light and resulting LED-based light”

U.S. Patent No. 8,573,813,  entitled “LED-based light with supported heat sink”


Orion Energy Systems, Inc. v. Energy Bank, Inc.

Orion Energy Systems, Inc. v. Green Creative LLC

In a complaint filed September 18, 2016 in federal court in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Orion Energy Systems (Orion) asserted two related lighting patents against Energy Bank.

The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,337,043 and 8,858,018, each entitled “Modular light fixture with power pack” and directed to light fixtures including first and second raceways, a support structure extending between and coupled to the raceways, a plurality of LEDs coupled to the structure and spaced apart, and a power pack  electrically coupled to the LEDs.

The accused products are Energy Bank’s LightSource light.

Orion brought another lawsuit, this one against Green Creative, alleging that the defendant’s 2X2′ and 2X4′ LED Troffer Retrofit Kits infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,206,948, entitled “Troffer light fixture retrofit systems and methods.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 30, 2016.


Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Cree, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. American Honda Motor Co.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Acuity Brands, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Ford Motor Company

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. General Motors Company

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Ledengin, inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Soraa, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Teledyne Reynolds, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes filed eight lawsuits on September 21, 2016 against a bunch of defendants including LED makers Acuity Brands, Cree, Ledengin, Soraa, and Teledyne Reynolds and automakers Honda, Ford and GM.

The complaints were all filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and all assert the same patent – U.S. Patent No. 6,079,854 (‘854 Patent).

The ‘854 Patent is entitled “Device and method for diffusing light” and directed to a lighting device to diffuse a beam of light such as a main light beam in a headlamp, thereby substantially reducing the glare experienced by oncoming drivers and permitting high beams of the headlamp to be used in the presence of the oncoming drivers.

The light has a region segregated into a plurality of channels into which light from a concave lens is radiated to provide a diffused pattern of dispersed light to exit the front end of the lighting housing.
The Cree and Honda complaints (jakuta-diodes-llc-v-cree-inc; jakuta-diodes-llc-v-american-honda-motor-co-inc) are illustrative.  The accused Cree products are the DiamondFacet Lenses and WaveMax Technology, and the accused Honda products are the Jewel Eye LED Headlights sold in the Acura RLX model automobiles.


Blackbird Tech, LLC v. DAMAR Worldwide 4 LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. EiKo Global, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Halco Lighting Technologies, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Health in Motion LLC et al.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Hyperikon, Inc.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Innoled Lighting Inc.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. LEDi2, Inc. et al.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. RemPhos Technologies LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Tadd, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. LLC Espen Technology Inc.

Not to be outdone, Blackbird fired off ten complaints in Delaware federal court October 19, 2016.

Each complaint asserted 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 Innoled Lighting complaint is representative and says the defendant is infringing the ‘747 Patent by selling linear LED lighting products.


Lexington Luminance LLC v. LG Electronics et al.

In a complaint filed October 27, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accused LG of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851 (‘851 Patent).

The ‘851 Patent is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing the same” and is directed to LEDs having textured districts on the substrate such that inclined layers guide extended defects to designated gettering centers in the trench region where the defects combine with each other.  This structure reduces the defect density of the LEDs.

The accused products include various televisions, computer displays, mobile phones, and other electronic devices using LED illuminated LCD displays.


CAO Lighting, Inc. v. Light Efficient Design et al.

CAO Lighting brought an infringement action (cao-lighting-inc-v-light-efficient-design-et-al) against Light Efficient Design in federal court in Idaho on October 28, 2016.

CAO alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,465,961 (‘961 Patent), entitled “Semiconductor light source using a heat sink with a plurality of panels” and directed to an LED light source with a heat sink that has multiple panels.  Each panel may host one or more LED chips, which can be arranged to transmit light in multiple directions.  More details on this patent can found in my previous post here.

The accused products include the 8000 Series lighting products such as the LED-8039E57 bulb and LED-8024E retrofit product.

Smart Grid

Grid Innovations, LLC v. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas

GRID Innovations sued the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for alleged infringement of two patents relating to trading and routing electric power.

The complaint was filed September 2, 2016 in federal court in Tyler, Texas and accuses ERCOT’s electric power trade and distribution systems, specifically the day-ahead and real-time energy markets of infringing the patents.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent No. 7,945,502 (‘502 Patent) and 9,256,905 (‘905 Patent).

The ‘502 Patent is entitled “Online trading and dynamic routing of electric power among electric service providers” and directed to a method and system for trading electric power on a spot market and dynamically matching bids and asks and routing the electric power in accordance with the matches to effect the settled trades.

The ‘905 Patent is entitled “Intelligent routing of electric power” and directed to a method and system for dynamically routing electric power in real time in accordance with parameters submitted by buyers and sellers of electric power using a feedback control scheme.


Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Cascade Energy, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Schneider Electric USA, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Siemens Corporation

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. SmartLabs, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Wink Inc. et al.

Clean Energy Management Solutions (CEMS) filed three complaints on September 6, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas asserting U.S. Patent No. 6,577,962 against Cascade Energy, Schneider Electric, and Siemens (Cascade Energy complaint; Schneider Electric complaintSiemens complaintSmartLabs complaintWink complaint).

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 products are Cascade Energy’s SENSEI system, Schneider’s PowerLogic ION EEM system, and Siemens’ SIMATIC B.Data system.

On October 28th and 31st, respectively, CEMS also sued SmartLabs and Wink in the same court, alleging that SmartLabs’ Insteon home automation system and Wink’s home security and automation system infringe U.S. Patent No. 8,035,479 (‘479 Patent).

The ‘479 Patent is entitled “Mesh network door lock” and relates to systems and methods for sending a code from a mesh network key and wirelessly communicating the code with one or more mesh network appliances over a mesh network such as ZigBee, receiving the code over the mesh network by a mesh network lock controller, and providing access to the secured area upon authenticating the code.


JSDQ Mesh Technologies LLC v. S & C Electric Company

On October 20, 2016, JSDQ filed suit against S & C Electric Company in U.S. District Court for the Norther District of Illinois, alleging infringement of four patents relating to wireless routing systems used in smart grid networks.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,286,828 and 7,916,648, both entitled “Method of Call Routing and Connection,” RE43,675 entitled “Wireless Radio Routing System,” and RE44,607entitled, “Wireless Mesh Routing Method.”

JSDQ alleges that S& C Electric infringes the patents-in-suit because of its deployment of the SpeedNet Radio Networks.


Solar Mounting Systems

Rillito River Solar, LLC v. Wencon Development, Inc.

Rillito River Solar sued Wencon September 23, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The complaint alleges that Wencon’s Quick Mount roof mounting system infringes three patents relating to solar mounting systems.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,526,701, entitled “Roof mount,” 9,010,038, entitled “Tile roof mount” and 9,422,723, entitled “Roofing grommet forming a seal between a roof-mounted structure and a roof.”


Water Conservation

Water Conservation Technology Int’l v. Roseburg Forest Products Co. et al.

This lawsuit involves five related patents pertaining to technologies for treating water in an environmentally friendly matter.

The patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,929,749, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,193, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 6,998,092, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 7,122,148, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 7,517,493, entitled “Cooling water corrosion inhibition method”

The complaint was filed by Water Conservation Technologies International (WCTI) September 9, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

WCTI alleges that the defendant continues to use the patented technologies for treating a cooling tower at defendant’s biomass cogeneration plant after termination of a contract between the parties.

More Green Patent PR: Solidia Technologies Granted Three New Patents

November 1st, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »


Solidia Technologies (Solidia) is a New Jersey company that has developed a carbon sequestration technology for use in the concrete and cement markets.  Solidia’s process sequesters CO2 by injecting it into concrete during the manufacturing process.

Consistent with the trend of clean tech companies generating PR about their patent news (see, e.g., previous posts here, here, and here), Solidia recently announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company three new patents.

The press release was picked up by a few news organizations, including The Olympian and The State.  But I didn’t have to search for it; it was conveniently delivered to my email inbox.

The new patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,221,027 (‘027 Patent), 9,393,715 (‘715 Patent), and 9,266,147 (‘147 Patent).

The ‘027 Patent is entitled “Curing systems for materials that consume carbon dioxide and method of use thereof” and directed to curing systems useful for curing materials that consume carbon dioxide as a reagent.  A schematic diagram of the patented system is shown here:


According to the ‘027 Patent, this system “creates a controlled atmosphere whereby temperature, pressure, COconcentration, relative humidity and gas velocity are monitored and controlled to create final concrete-based products that will predominately cure in the presence of CO2 and will not fully cure in the absence of CO2.”

Entitled “Composite railroad ties and methods of production and uses thereof,” the ‘715 Patent is directed to railroad ties made from new composite materials including a silica-rich first or inner layer and a calcium carbonate-rich second or outer layer.

The ties have particular density, abrasion resistance, and compressive and flextural strength characteristics that enable them to perform as well as or even outperform existing concrete railroad ties.  Here are a couple of drawing from the ‘715 Patent:


The ‘147 Patent is entitled “Precursors and transport methods for hydrothermal liquid phase sintering (HLPS)” and directed to methods of producing a ceramic body from a porous matrix including providing a porous matrix having interstitial spaces, providing an infiltrating medium comprising a solvent and at least one reactive species, and infiltrating at least a portion of the interstitial space of the porous matrix with the infiltrating medium.

According to the ‘147 Patent, the methods produce a ceramic or ceramic composite product having a uniform microstructure with respect to phase and composition.

The methods also allow HLPS reactions to be conducted in a relatively short time frame, which is important where large thick monolithic bodies are required for various applications, such as for roads or bridges. The patented techniques also balance the rate of reaction and mass transport for the HLPS method.

These three patents are just the tip of the iceberg for Solidia.  The press release says the company has over 200 patent applications worldwide in its “patent estate,” with 31 granted patents and 15 more set to issue in the next few months.  So there’s a lot of green patent PR still to come.


FTC Amends Energy Labeling Rule to Create Online Label Database

October 19th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

Since 1979, America’s consumers have benefited from the the Energy Labeling Rule, which requires energy labeling (specifically the EnergyGuide label) for major home appliances and other consumer products.

The Rule was promulgated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), America’s competition and consumer watchdog agency.

In some important amendments to the Rule published last month, the FTC has added several elements, most significantly an online label database (label image reporting).

Other changes include revised labels for ceiling fans, central air conditioners, and water heaters, as well as new refrigerator comparability range information and dual mode refrigerator labeling.

The amendments add to the existing reporting requirements a provision that manufacturers need to to provide links to online labels for existing products.  The links can be submitted either when they certify their models or as part of manufacturers’ regular annual FTC reporting.

Going forward, manufacturers will have to submit the required label links as part of all new model and annual reports.

The final rule provides three options for submitting label information: (1) through direct URL links to the labels themselves; (2) through links to a PDF download; or (3) through a link to a web site from which users can obtain labels by searching by product model number.

According to the regulations, the online label database requirement is intended to benefit both consumers and retailers by making it easier to research and access and energy data for appliances.

More particularly, retailers can use the data for advertising and replacing missing labels, obviating the need to obtain labels from individual manufacturers.  And consumers can use it to easily research comparative efficiency.

A Tree Grows in Colombia: New Patent Provides Local Color

October 7th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »


In what may be a first, a new U.S. patent includes a statement about the geographic location of the colorant composition.

The patent – U.S. Patent No. 9,376,569 – issued June 28, 2016 and is entitled “Colorant compounds derived from genipin or genipin containing materials” (‘569 Patent).

The ‘569 Patent relates to a natural blue dye for use in foods and personal care products.  More particularly, the ‘569 Patent is directed to colorant compositions made from the juice of the Genipa americana fruit (pictured above) and methods of preparing the compositions.

The methods include mixing the juice with an amino acid, removing the sugar from the mixture, and isolating the colorant composition.  The colorant compositions comprise purified polymer or dimer compounds obtained from multiple fractioning by chromatography.

The patent is owned by a Colombian company called Ecoflora, which is a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT).  The UEBT is a non-profit that promotes sourcing of ingredients from biodiverse areas and requires that is members comply with its principles on patents and biodiversity.

One of those principles is that patent applications disclose the country of origin of the biological resources and establish a link between patents and agreements on fair trade and benefit sharing.

In accordance with these requirements, the ‘569 Patent contains the following paragraph at the top of the Background of the Invention section:

Statement of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)

This invention is based on the extraction and use of a blue dye with edible properties from the fruit of the Genipa americana tree. This tree grows in a variety of rainforests of Colombia. In compliance with the principles of ABS of the Convention of Biological Diversity and its implementing Nagoya Protocol, access to the genetic resources was obtained through agreements with ethnic communities and the authorities charged by Colombian legislation with administering their collective territories. The assignee has also entered into agreements with several community entrepreneurial initiatives that coordinate local production and supply dynamics with commercial partners. Through a shareholding agreement, these community-owned suppliers share in the financial benefits of commercialization of the genetic resources. Additional benefit sharing is provided through Fundacion Espave, a nonprofit organization that is a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade and that trains local producers on sustainable sourcing in the Pacific rainforest.

This is the first time I’ve seen something quite like this in a U.S. patent.  Presumably, the statement is important to UEBT and its members.

For the rest of us the statement is purely informational and, though it goes beyond the disclosure requirements under U.S. patent law, would not likely have any impact on the validity or enforceability of the patent in the United States.

It will be interesting to see whether more applicants insert the same statement in their patent applications.

More interestingly, will inventions other than genetics relating to biological diversity require certain disclosures?  I wonder, for example, whether there is anything in any climate change agreements that might compel applicants to provide additional information about the source of materials, the use of the invention, or license agreements.

Read more about the patent, the applicant, and the UEBT in an IP Watch article here.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 23rd, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

A number of new green patent infringement complaints were filed in July and August in the areas of advanced batteries, biofuels, LEDs, and electric motors.


Advanced Batteries

Dynavair LLC v. AMS USA, Inc.; Dynavair v. Atmel; Dyanavair v. Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions; Dynavair v. Eaton; Dynavair v. Freescale Semiconductor; Dynavair v. Intersil; Dynavair v. Linear Technology; Dynavair v. Microchip Technology; Dynavair v. OKW Electronics; Dynavair v. Samsung SDI America; Dynavair v. SII Semiconductor; Dynavair v. Texas Instruments

Dynavair has initiated at least twelve lawsuits accusing, inter alia, AMS USA, Atmel, Eaton, Freescale Semiconductor, Samsung, and Texas Instruments of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,271,645 (‘645 Patent).

A representative complaint, filed July 5, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas, against AMS lists AMS’s AS8506C Battery Cell Monitor and Balancer IC as the accused instrumentality.  According to the complaint, the product balances energy levels between two battery groups in a battery pack.

The ‘645 Patent is entitled “Method for balancing battery pack energy levels” and directed to a method and circuit for balancing energy levels among first and second battery groups within a battery pack by controlling a first energy level responsive to a first state of charge value indicative of a first energy level of the first battery group and a second energy level responsive to a second state of charge value indicative of the energy level of the second battery group so as to balance the first and second energy levels.


DSM IP Assets et al. v. Lallemand Specialties, Inc. et al.

Filed July 13, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, DSM’s complaint accuses Lallemand and Mascoma LLC of infringing a patent relating to yeast products used in ethanol production.

U.S. Patent No. 8,795,998 is entitled “Fermentative glycerol-free ethanol production” and directed to transgenic yeast cells that reduce or eliminate the production of glycerol during fermentation.

More particularly, the patent relates to a recombinant yeast cell lacking enzymatic activity needed for the NADH-dependent glycerol synthesis or the cell having reduced enzymatic activity with respect to the NADH-dependent glycerol synthesis.

The accused products are yeast products, including Lallemand’s TransFerm Yield+ yeast.


Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Titch Industries, Inc. et al.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Shenzhen Jiawei Photovoltaic Lighting Co.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Satco Products, Inc.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Technical Consumer Products, Inc.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Wangs Alliance Corporation et al.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Amax Lighting

Lighting Science Group filed at least six more infringement suits in July, asserting various combinations of 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.

With the exception of the Shenzhen complaint, filed July 11, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, all of the lawsuits were filed in Orlando, Florida.  The Titch complaint was filed July 7th; the Satco complaint and the Technical Consumer Products complaint were filed July 13th; the Wangs Alliance complaint and the Amax Lighting complaint were filed July 22nd.


Lexington Luminance LLC v. TCL Multimedia Holdings, Ltd. et al.

In a complaint filed July 13, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accused TCL Multimedia Holdings and TTE Technology of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851 (‘851 Patent).

The ‘851 Patent is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing the same” and is directed to LEDs having textured districts on the substrate such that inclined layers guide extended defects to designated gettering centers in the trench region where the defects combine with each other.  This structure reduces the defect density of the LEDs.

The accused products include television model 40FD2700 using backlighting LEDS which, according to the complaint, use an infringing patterned sapphire substrate.


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 July 14, 2016, the complaint lists the LG G3 and G4 smartphones as accused devices.


Nichia Corporation v. Mary Elle Fashions, Inc. et al.

Nichia Corporation v. Lowe’s Companies, Inc. et al.

Nichia Corporation v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings, Ltd. et al.

Nichia filed these three lawsuits in July and August asserting U.S. Patent No. 7,915,631 (‘631 Patent) against Mary Elle Fashions, Lowe’s, and TCL.

The complaint against Mary Elle Fashions was filed July 19, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and lists the Meridian 13w Equivalent Bright White G24 Non-Dimmable LED Bulb as the accused product.

The Lowe’s complaint, filed July 19, 2016 in federal court in Statesville, North Carolina, alleges that the Utilitech Pro 48-inch Strip Light and the Utilitech Pro 24-inch Strip Light infringe the ‘631 Patent.

The complaint against TCL was filed August 8, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware and names the TCL 48″ Class Television as the accused product.

Entitled “Light emitting device and display,” the ‘631 Patent is directed to an LED having a phosphor capable of absorbing a part of light emitted by a light emitting component and emitting light of a wavelength different from that of the absorbed light.


Nichia Corporation v. v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings, Ltd. et al.

Separately, Nichia also sued TCL in federal court in Marshall, Texas allegint that the TCL 55GS3700 55 inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV infringes U.S. Patent No. 8,530,250 (‘250 Patent).

Entitled “Light emitting device, resin package, resin-molded body, and methods for manufacturing light emitting device, resin package and resin-molded body,” the ‘250 Patent is directed to a method of manufacturing an LED such that the optical reflectivity at a wavelength of 350-800 nm after thermal curing is 70% or more.

The method includes the steps of sandwiching a leadframe with a notched section, transfer-molding a thermosetting resin containing a light-reflecting substance, forming a resin-molded body on the leadframe, and cutting the resin-molded body and the leadframe along the notched section.

The complaint was filed August 8, 2016.


Seoul Viosys Co., Ltd. v. P3 International Corporation

This lawsuit was filed August 8, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In the suit, Seoul accuses P3 of infringing five LED patents:

U.S. Patent No. 7,982,207, entitled “Light emitting diode”

U.S. Patent No. 7,951,626, entitled “Light emitting device and method of manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 9,203,006, entitled “Light emitting device”

U.S. Patent No. 8,692,282, entitled “Light emitting diode package and light emitting module comprising the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,168,988, entitled “Light emitting element with a plurality of cells bonded, method of manufacturing the same, and light emitting device using the same”

The accused products listed in the complaint include P3’s P7880 LED Bug Trap and P7885 LED Bug Trapper II.


Philips Lighting North America Corp. et al. v. GVA Lighting, Inc.

Philips has asserted four of its LED patents against Canadian company GVA, alleging that GVA’s STR9 RGBW linear surface mount LED luminaires infringe the patents.

The patents-in-suit are:

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. 7,014,336, entitled “Systems and methods for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

U.S. Patent No. 7,255,457, entitled “Methods and apparatus for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

The complaint was filed August 11, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.


Bitro Group v. Blueview Elec-Optic Tech

Bitro Group v. Global Lux

Bitro Group v. Jb Online LLC dba Ellumiglow.com

Bitro Group v. LEDwholesalers.com

Bitro Group v. The LED Light, Inc.

Bitro Group filed five lawsuits on August 16, 2016 against various defendants 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 complaints (Blueview Elec-Optic complaintGlobal Lux complaintJB Online complaintLEDwholesalers.com complaintThe LED Light complaint) were all filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The accused products are Blue View Elec-Optic’s Bendable Zig Zag LED tape, Global Lux’s Zigzag Ribbon lights, JB Online’s Wavelux Bendable 3528 LED Strip Light, LEDwholesalers’ Ultra-Flex 6.56-Feet Single Color LED Strip, and the LED Light’s Bendable Flexible LED Strips.


Innovative Display Technologies LLC v. LG Display Co. et al.

U.S. Patent Nos. 7,322,730, entitled “Light emitting panel assemblies” (‘730 Patent) and 7,178,965, entitled “Light emitting panel assemblies having LEDs of multiple colors” (‘965 Patent).

The ‘730 and ‘965 Patents relate to optical assemblies including a light emitter having at least one layer of a transparent film, sheet or plate through which light emitted by the light emitter passes.  A pattern of deformities on or in at least one side of the film, sheet or plate control an output ray angle distribution of light emitted by the optical assemblies.

The complaint was filed August 24, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

The accused products are various mobile phones, tablets, televisions, monitors, laptops, and liquid crystal display modules containing edge-lit and/or 2-D array backlights.


Epistar Corporation v. Adamax, Inc.

In this action, filed August 30, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Epistar has asserted six patents relating to LED filament technology.

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

U.S. Patent No. 6,489,068, entitled “Process for observing overlay errors on lithographic masks”

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

U.S. Patent No. 8,240,881, entitled “Light-emiting device package”

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

U.S. Patent No. 9,065,022, entitled “Light emitting apparatus”

The complaint names Adamax’s NewHouse Lighting Dimmable Flame Tip 3.5 W LED Vintage Edison Filament Bulb, 2200K as infringing products.

Electric Motors

Cannarella v. Volvo Car USA LLC et al.

An individual inventor, R. Thomas Cannarella, sued Volvo and others alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,232,661 (‘661 Patent).

The ‘661 Patent is entitled “System and method for generating and storing clean energy” and directed to a system for generating electrical energy from pressurized fluid and peristaltic compression and expansion cycles.

Filed August 17, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the complaint alleges that the defendants have made a commercial entitled “Highway Robbery: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Hybrid” featuring an infringing peristaltic energy generation system.

Eco-mark Update: A New Green Certification for Evaluating Power System Performance

September 12th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »


A new green certification has been added to the eclectic mix of independent third-party indicators of environmentally beneficial products, systems, buildings, etc.

Administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), which also runs the LEED certification for green buildings, the PEER certification (for Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal) measures power system performance.

More particularly, according to the PEER overview page:

PEER evaluates power generation, transmission, and distribution systems across desired outcomes of optimal efficiency, quality, reliability, and resiliency, and with minimized impact to the environment…PEER addresses power generation, transmission, and distribution–from the time it leaves the generator until it reaches the customer.

PEER includes a screening process to provide independent assessments of power system projects and a rating system for potential certification.

The rating system has four outcome-based credit categories and 68 credits.  Reliability & Resilience credits address power quality, supply availability, interruptions, risk mitigation, restoration, redundancy and microgrid capabilities.

Energy Efficiency & Environment credits address energy efficiency of power delivery, air emissions, resource use, renewable energy credits and power delivery impacts.

Operational Effectiveness credits address electricity costs, asset utilization, load shaping, general operation expenses, capital spending or investment, corrective maintenance and indirect costs.

Customer Contribution credits address customer grid service capability, meter data access, tools, choice, incentives and dynamic pricing.

According to the PEER web site, the new certification is important because of the environmental costs of relying on traditional energy sources and the costs of poor power quality:

Electricity is lost through conversion and waste, which has a negative impact on the environment as well as the economy. Reliance on non-renewable energy sources threatens our environment. Poor power quality can damage electrical devices. Power outages, usually as a result of severe weather, costs the economy billions of dollars a year and poses risks to critical infrastructure.

A search of the federal trademark records shows that GBCI owns U.S. Service Mark Registration No. 4,683,005 for the mark PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE IN ELECTRICITY RENEWAL for the following services in Class 41:

Education services, namely, providing courses and classes for teaching professionals in the fields of achieving a standard level of performance in terms of electricity sustainability including: reliability, power, quality, safety, energy efficiency, environment, cost efficiency, and customer engagement

While educational services are important, given the central focus on independent certification, it seems odd that GBCI hasn’t applied for a certification mark registration for the word PEER, the full phrase, and/or the PEER logo shown above.

Certification marks differ from ordinary trademarks and service marks in that, instead of indicating the commercial source of a product or service, they communicate that goods or services meet certain quality or manufacturing standards.  They are owned not by the individual businesses, but by the organizations that set the standards.

For further discussion of certification marks see my previous posts here, here, and here.

Regardless of its trademark protection strategy, GBCI remains a force in green certifications and the new PEER certification has the potential to have a major positive impact on power generation, transmission, and distribution.

Court Holds Grid Monitoring Patents Invalid; Collecting Info is Unpatentable Abstract Idea

August 30th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

A prior post reported on the litigation between Electric Power Group (EPG) and Alstom Grid.

The lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, alleged that Alstom’s “PhasorPoint” and “e-terravision” solutions infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 8,060,2597,233,843, and 8,401,710 (EPG Patents).

The EPG Patents relate to wide-area real-time performance monitoring systems for monitoring and assessing dynamic stability of an electric power grid.

More particularly, the patents describe and claim systems and methods for performing real-time performance monitoring of an electric power grid by collecting data from multiple data sources, analyzing the data, and displaying the results.

In an opinion issued earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held the EPG Patents invalid under Section 101 of the Patent Act for failing the test for patent eligibility.  The decision affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment.

Section 101 defines the subject matter eligible for patenting and, according to the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, “contains an important implicit exception:  Laws of natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable” concepts.

Alice set out a two-stage Section 101 inquiry for determining patent eligibility.  Stage one asks whether a patent claim is directed to one of the three non-patent eligible concepts.

If so, at stage two, the court asks whether the particular elements of the claim add enough to “transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application.”

According to the Federal Circuit, because the claims of the EPG Patents are directed to collecting and analyzing information and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis, they “fall into a familiar class of claims ‘directed to” a patent-ineligible concept.”

More particularly, information is an intangible, and collecting information is an abstract idea:

[W]e have treated collecting information, including when limited to particular content (which does not change its character as information), as within the realm of abstract ideas.

Furthermore, the court found the patents’ improvement of focusing on specific content to be collected and analyzed not sufficiently innovative:

The advance [the EPG Patents] purport to make is a process of gathering and analyzing information of a specified content, then displaying the results, and not any particular assertedly inventive technology for performing those functions.  They are therefore directed to an abstract idea.

Turning to stage two of the Alice framework, the Federal Circuit did not find anything added to the claims or any limitations that would remove them from the realm of abstract ideas and make them patent-eligible.  Limiting them to the power-grid monitoring space was not enough:

Most obviously, limiting the claims to the particular technological environment of power-grid monitoring is, without more, insufficient to transform them into patent-eligible applications of the abstract idea at their core.

Much of the content of the claims of the EPG Patents, the court observed, was “devoted to enumerating types of information and information sources available within the power-grid environment.”  Merely selecting that information does not “differentiate a process from ordinary mental processes.”

According to the court, the claims did not require any inventive set of components or methods, such as measurement devices or techniques, do not generate new data, and do not invoke any inventive programming.  They also do not require anything other than off-the-shelf, conventional computer network and display technology.

Thus, the court held that the EPG Patent claims “do not state an arguably inventive concept in the realm of application of the information-based abstract ideas” and are therefore invalid.

The Federal Circuit closed its opinion with some tough words from the district court about the EPG Patents that allude to a public policy rationale for invalidating the patents:

[R]ather than claiming “some specific way of enabling a computer to monitor data from multiple sources across an electric power grid,” some “particular implementation,” they “purport to monopolize every potential solution to the problem” – any way of effectively monitoring multiple sources on a power grid.

Some might say that alone is reason to invalidate the patents.

Master of its Domain: Infringement Verdict Could Mean Dominion Dominance in Advanced Metering

August 19th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »


Once in a long while a green patent lawsuit comes along that has the potential to have a major impact on a clean technology sector.

A few that come to mind are GE’s litigation with Mitsubishi involving, among others, U.S. Patent No. 5,083,039, a seminal patent on variable speed wind technology, Paice’s epic battle with Toyota over the hybrid vehicle technology used in the Prius, and the biofuels patent litigation between BP-DuPont joint venture Butamax and the advanced biofuels company Gevo.

We may have witnessed another one this summer, with the announcement last month by Dominion Voltage, Inc. (Dominion) that a jury found Alstom Grid infringed a Dominion patent relating to voltage reduction in advanced metering infrastructure.

Dominion filed an infringement complaint against Alstom Grid in January 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The asserted patents were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,577,510 and 8,437,883 (‘883 Patent), related patents each entitled “Voltage conservation using advanced metering infrastructure and substation centralized voltage control.”

The patents, one a continuation of the other, are directed to voltage control and energy conservation systems where a plurality of sensors sense voltages of the supplied electric power at distribution locations and generate measurement data based on the sensed voltages.

A voltage controller generates an energy delivery parameter based on a comparison of the measurement data received from the sensors to a controller target voltage band, and a voltage adjusting device adjusts a voltage of the electric power supplied at the supply point based on the energy delivery parameter.

If that concept seems broad to you, it is, and the folks at Greentech Media thought so too.  In this piece reporting on the lawsuit, GTM said the asserted Dominion patents “appear to hold pretty broad claim over the very idea of using distributed sensors for grid voltage management.”

According to GTM, the patented technology is embodied in Dominion’s commercial products and is pervasive in the smart meter industry today:

That’s the technology behind DVI’s EDGE control platform, now in use by utilities across the country, and using smart meters and networks from a list of vendor partners including Silver Spring Networks, Elster and Landis+Gyr.

And now at least one of the major commercial users of the technology has been found to infringe of the patents.  According to the Dominion press release, the jury in the lawsuit returned a verdict of infringement, finding the ‘883 patent valid and infringed by Alstom Grid (now owned by GE).

The jury also found that Alstom “induced infringement through the installation of its distribution management system at a customer location.”

Dominion is likely to seek an injunction to stop Alstom Grid from installing and using the infringing products.  However, these cases more often result in a license negotiated by the parties including some sort of royalty payment.

In any event, Dominion is now in a very strong position in the smart meter-enabled grid voltage control space.  According to GTM, which covered the jury verdict here, the company is the U.S. leader in this market and now “has a jury verdict to protect the technology behind that market dominance.”

Fiddler on the Roof: FTC to be More Active in Rooftop Solar?

August 9th, 2016 by Eric Lane No comments »

rooftop solar

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been very active in combating greenwashers, those advertisers and marketers of green products and services that make false or deceptive claims of environmental benefits.

America’s consumer watchdog agency has addressed greenwashing in two ways.   First, the agency has attempted to preempt it through guidance to advertisers in its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, commonly know as the Green Guides, which provide a framework for green marketers to formulate permissible environmental benefit claims for products and services.

Second, the FTC has undertaken a number of enforcement actions against greenwashers, including against an LED manufacturer for misleading environmental benefit claims and a recent lawsuit against Volkswagen on behalf of consumers.

In a recent piece published on Law360, three attorneys from the WilmerHale law firm wrote that the FTC appears poised to take a more active role in the area of rooftop solar installations.

A workshop held by the FTC in June examined consumer protection issues in the rooftop solar industry, which operates amid a “complex matrix of laws, regulations, policies, subsidies and incentives.”

According to the article, the FTC believes it has the expertise to protect consumers of rooftop solar installations:

The FTC has taken the position that it is “uniquely positioned” to ensure that “consumers are well-informed about its pros and cons and the options available to them” regarding rooftop solar generation.

The agency, of course, has the authority to target deceptive advertising, and it noted at the workshop that the Green Guides are applicable to the marketing of rooftop solar installations.

Furthermore, the FTC has issued “Solar Power for Your Home” guidance for consumers and recently opened an enforcement action relating to allegedly illegal robocalls for solar marketing.

While a number of state officials believe primary regulatory responsibility for the rooftop solar industry should be on the state level, the article said, they recognize that the FTC could play a role in identifying best practices and consumer communication templates.

So we can expect to see more from the FTC to keep greenwashing in check as the rooftop solar industry expands.