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18 September 2008


Nichia sues Seoul Semiconductor in UK over annealing patent

Japanese LED maker Nichia Corp has filed another lawsuit in the UK alleging that the Acriche LED products of Korean rival Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd infringe its patent EP(UK) 0 541,373 ('Method of Manufacturing P-type Compound Semiconductor'), which Nichia describes as one of its most important patents (relating to a thermal annealing method for manufacturing p-type gallium nitride-based materials). Nichia is also claiming damages.

The annealing patent is considered to be fundamental and indispensable for the mass production of GaN-based LEDs and laser diodes. Nichia believes that the chips in Acriche white LED products are manufactured using the process described in the patent. The firm says that it places great significance on the proper protection of intellectual property rights, and will continue to exercise its rights aggressively around the world.

In response, Seoul Semiconductor claims that its Acriche products are manufactured under a licence for related technology from Gertrude Rothschild Neumark (professor emerita of Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia University) and University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and that it has the means to establish non-infringement of Nichia's patent. Seoul also believes that it has sufficient prior art to have Nichia's patent revoked as invalid.

Seoul adds that it finds it hard to see how Nichia's patent can be valid over Neumark's [earlier] patent and preceding technologies. Furthermore, the firm says that it has an opinion from a Japanese patent specialist that multiple similar technologies have existed before.

Seoul says that it has raised proposals to bring invalidity lawsuits against Nichia's patents and have them revoked. Other lawsuits brought by Seoul to invalidate Nichia's patents are already on-going in the USA, Japan and Korea. "We pursue revocation actions to protect stockholder's rights," says Seoul.

See related items:

Seoul confident that Nichia’s US lawsuit lacks merit

Nichia files US patent lawsuit against Seoul Semiconductor

Korean IP tribunal rules Nichia’s patent lacks novelty

Seoul refutes Nichia’s German patent infringement allegation

Nichia files German patent lawsuit against Seoul Semiconductor’s Acriche products

Korean IP tribunal rules Seoul Semi LED design invalid

US court rejects Nichia’s $2.5m claim for fees against Seoul

Nichia files UK lawsuit against Seoul’s Acriche products

Nichia sues Japan Seoul Semiconductor over white LEDs for keypads, indicators

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