FREE subscription
Subscribe for free to receive each issue of Semiconductor Today magazine and weekly news brief.


30 December 2008


Bridgelux and Cree settle patent infringement litigation

Bridgelux Inc of Sunnyvale, CA, USA has reached agreement with rival LED maker Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA and Boston University to settle their patent infringement litigation and to dismiss all claims and counterclaims in the suits. 

Founded in December 2002 as eLite Optoelectronics Inc by Dr Heng Liu (formerly of North Carolina State University, Emcore, Hewlett Packard, and AXT, and now chief technology officer), Bridgelux designs and makes power LED chips based on ITO/InGaN (indium tin oxide/indium gallium nitride) for solid-state lighting (using proprietary epitaxy and LED packaging technology with high-volume production capacity in Taiwan).

In September 2006, Cree filed the patent infringement lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in September 2006 seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief to prohibit Bridgelux from infringing two US Patents:

  • 6,657,236, ‘Enhanced Light Extraction in LEDs through the Use of Internal and External Optical Elements’ (assigned to Cree Lighting Company);
  • 5,686,738, ‘Highly Insulating Monocrystalline Gallium Nitride Thin Films’, relating to devices manufactured using a GaN-based buffer technology, comprising a GaN layer and one or more doped GaN layers.

Subsequently, in October 2006, Bridgelux responded by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and counter-sued by filing a law suit against Cree for infringement of Bridgelux’s US patent 6,869,812.

Co-plaintiffs in the ’738 suit are the trustees of Boston University, who own the patent and license it to Cree on an exclusive basis. The patent was invented by College of Engineering professor Ted Moustakas, a founder of the university’s Photonics Center in 1994. The ’738 patent was also the subject of two prior suits brought by Cree and Boston against Japan’s Nichia Corp and AXT Inc of Fremont, CA, USA, which were settled in 2002 (via a cross-licensing agreement) and March 2004, respectively. BridgeLux’s Heng Liu was formerly in charge of AXT’s LED operations.

As part of the latest settlement, Bridgelux has been granted a license to the Cree and Boston University patents at issue, in exchange for paying a license fee and royalties. In addition, Bridgelux and Cree have entered into a supply agreement under which Cree will become a significant supplier to Bridgelux, which has been seeking to expand its market reach beyond its LED chips into value-added, application-specific LED lighting products. Cree's product families include blue and green LED chips, lighting LEDs, and LED backlighting.

“This agreement creates a collaborative environment between Bridgelux and Cree, while affirming the commitment of both companies to the protection of intellectual property,” says Bridgelux’s CEO Mark Swoboda. “Cree will become an important technology and manufacturing partner for Bridgelux, supporting our efforts to enable the mass adoption of solid-state lighting,” he adds.

“This resolution underscores the importance of intellectual property in the nitride LED market,” says Adam Broome, Cree’s VP-Legal and general counsel. “We look forward to working with Bridgelux.”

See related items:

Bridgelux ships low cost-per-lumen LED chip

BridgeLux responds to Cree lawsuit

Cree files patent lawsuit against BridgeLux

Search: Bridgelux Cree ITO/InGaN GaN LEDs