Osram, LG and Samsung Kick Off Global LED Patent War

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In a major new global LED patent war, Osram has sued Samsung and LG in several forums around the world, including the U.S. International Trade Commission, Delaware and California federal courts, Germany, and (against LG only) in Japan and China.

According to the California complaint against LG (Osram-LG-Complaint) Osram’s conversion technologies, which enable production of white LEDs using blue-emitting semiconductors, are the subject of the asserted patents, and a host of LG flat screen televisions contain infringing LEDs.

The patents-in-suit number up to a dozen and include at least three patent families.

The first family of patents is entitled “Light-radiating semiconductor component with a luminescence conversion element” and relates to technologies for converting blue light to white light. This family includes U.S. Patents Nos. 6,812,500, 7,078,732, 7,126,162, 7,151,283, 7,345,317 and 7,629,621 (Luminescence Patents).

The Luminescence Patents are directed to an LED component comprising a semiconductor body (1) fixed onto a first electrical terminal (2).

The free surfaces of the semiconductor body (1) and parts of first and second electrical terminals (2, 3) are directly enclosed by a luminescence conversion encapsulation (5) made of an inorganic luminescent material.

For white-light-emitting components, the Luminiscence Patents specify Y3Al5O12:Ce3+ as the luminescent material.

In another embodiment, illustrated in Figure 2, the semiconductor body (1) and parts of the electrical terminals (2, 3) are enclosed by a transparent encapsulation (15) that does not effect any wavelength change. A luminescence conversion layer (4) is applied to the transparent encapsulation (15).

In this case the luminescence conversion layer (4) is treated with a luminescent material (6). A lens (29) reduces total reflection of the radiation within the luminescence conversion layer (4).

According to the Luminescence Patents, these structures provide homogeneous, polychromatic white light and simplify mass production by making the components more easily reproducible.

Another patent family includes U.S. Patents Nos. 6,459,130, 6,927,469 and 7,199,454, entitled “Optoelectronic semiconductor component” and U.S. Patent No. 6,975,011, entitled “Optoelectronic semiconductor component having multiple external connections.” (Optoelectronic Patents).

These patents are directed to an LED component with a semiconductor chip (1) secured on a chip carrier part (2), a parallelepipedal encapsulation (3), a connection part (10), and external connections (11, 12).

A trough (4) is formed in the region of the chip carrier part (3), which holds the semconductor chip (1). The inner surface (5) of the trough (4) has a truncated cone shape and forms a reflector for the radiation emitted by the semiconductor chip (1).

According to the Optoelectronic Patents, this configuration provides increased radiant intensity.

A third family of patents is entitled “Optical semiconductor device with multiple quantum well structure” and includes U.S. Patents No. 6,849,881 and 7,106,090, directed to a superlattice LED structure formed of layers of nitride semconductor material.

Osram also has asserted U.S. Patent No. 7,271,425, entitled “Optoelectronic component,” and U.S. Patent No. 7,427,806, entitled “Semiconductor component emitting and/or receiving electromagnetic radiation, and housing base for such a component.”

Samsung is fighting back, though, with a patent infringement suit of its own against Osram in a district court in Seoul, Korea.

With the growth and promise of this sector, LED patent litigation has become white hot, and the lawsuits just keep coming (see posts here and here). Osram’s California complaint sums it up well:

Business in this area is growing rapidly and has taken on major strategic importance.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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