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21 May 2007


Nichia sues Seoul Semiconductor's Japanese subsidiary over white LEDs

Nichia Corp has filed a complaint in Osaka District Court against Japan Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd (the Japanese subsidiary of Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd, the leading LED maker in Korea) and its distributor Kyoei Sangyo Co Ltd alleging that Seoul Semiconductor's 0.5 Watt Z-Power LED P9 series white-LED products infringe Nichia’s Japanese patents nos. 3511970 and 2778349 relating to GaN-based blue LED chips.

Nichia seeks damages for past infringement as well as an injunction against any further infringing activity. Nichia says that they "will not disclose" the amount of the damages. Meanwhile, Kyoei Sangyo is the distributor of the infringing products.

In response, Seoul Semiconductor has asked Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA to verify that Seoul Semiconductor uses Cree’s chips, which are covered by a cross-license agreement of 2005 between Cree and Nichia. In May 2006 Cree also signed a five-year supply agreement and patent cross-licensing agreement giving Seoul Semiconductor the right to use Cree’s white LED patent (US patent 6,600,175).

Seoul Semiconductor says that a total of 670 LEDs have been provided to Kyoei Sangyo as samples and mass-produced products in six shipments, and that 70 of them tuned out to be SemiLEDs Corp of Boise, ID, USA.

Seoul Semiconductor says that it has been notified that Cree will relay the above to Nichia, and that Cree believes the situation will be readily resolved.

For the 0.5W P9 LED, SemiLEDs’ chips were initially reviewed and used as samples, says Seoul Semiconductor, but currently it provides only Cree chips in products for the Japanese market.

Seoul Semiconductor says it has no intent to dispute this issue with Nichia, regardless of its patent infringement allegation. “Patents should be respected. But companies should not use patents for their improper sales and marketing purpose in business activities,” says the firm.

Another lawsuit against Seoul Semiconductor and its US subsidiary Seoul Semiconductor Inc was filed by Nichia in the US district court for Northern California in January 2006 is currently pending. Nichia is seeking damages for past infringement as well as an injunction against any further infringing activity, based on Nichia’s US design patents for side-view-type white LEDs. However, Seoul Semiconductor claims that Nichia’s US design patent is the same as Nichia’s Korean design patent that was invalidated by the Korean Intellectual Property Office last December.

See related item:

Nichia loses Korean design patent rights for backlighting side-view white LED

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