Intematix, a Fremont, California, company, has developed LED lighting technology that involves separating the LED chips from their complementary phosphors. This approach differs from that of conventional LEDs in which the phosphor is incorporated in the LED chip package and close to or in contact with a light emitting surface of the LED.
Phosphors are the chemical powders that coat LED chips, fluorescent light bulbs, and other devices.
Intematix phosphors convert blue light emitted from the LED chips to the white light that shines from LED bulbs.
One of the company’s recently granted patents is U.S. Patent No. 7,972,030 (’030 Patent), entitled “Light emitting diode (LED) based lighting systems” and directed to an LED lighting system in which the phosphor is incorporated in or on a surface of a shade that surrounds the LED. The ’030 Patent issued in July.
The ’030 Patent describes and claims a lighting fixture (18) having a shade (4) and an LED (5) mounted within the fixture. A layer of phosphor (16) is provided on an inner surface of the shade (4).
Different arrangements of reflectors (21a, 21b) can be used to reflect emitted radiation from the LED (5) toward the shade (4).
Blue light emitted from the LED (5) in combination with yellow light generated by the phosphor (16) provides emitted radiation (22) which appears white to the eye.
According to the ’030 Patent, an advantage of the invention is enhanced efficiency:
A particular advantage of the present invention is in the use of a phosphor which enhances the efficiency in terms of brightness for a given LED input power level as compared to known lighting systems which filter (selectively block) selected colors of transmitted light.
I spoke with Julian Carey, Director of Marketing at Intematix, who told me the ’030 Patent protects the company’s customers, who buy phosphors and phosphor components from Intematix and use them in various LED lighting applications.
For example, the embodiment shown in Figure 3 above is a pendant light fixture hanging from a cable (19).
Figure 4 illustrates a wall, or sconce, lighting fixture (23) embodiment.
But the “real highlight,” according to Carey, is the embodiment shown in Figure 5. This is a round lighting fixture or bulkhead light (25) having a circular housing (26).
According to Carey, this embodiment is “a very common type of lighting system” and is a highlight of the patent because it is “applicable to very widely implemented lighting systems.”
With the ’030 Patent providing protection for its customers, Carey told me it is an important patent that ”extends our IP in a very useful and strategic way.”
In this era of hyperactive LED patent litigation (see, e.g, previous posts here and here) LED components and materials makers filing for patents that would extend protection to their customers is probably good strategy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.