[UPDATE] Seoul Semiconductor Sues Kmart for Selling Products Infringing 8 LED Patents

  • Seoul Semiconductor asserts 8 patents including a patent by Nobel Prize co-inventor covering fundamental technologies for manufacturing LED products.
  •  Seoul Semiconductor has done successful patent enforcement cases continuously since its infringement lawsuit against AOT Inc. in 2003
  • Lawrence Gotts, the top litigator of Latham & Watkins, represents Seoul Semiconductor again after his successful willful infringement case against LED lens maker Enplas.

Seoul Semiconductor announced on Sept. 11, 2016 that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit together with its affiliate company, Seoul Viosys, against Kmart in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Kmart is one of the largest global retail companies with approximately 1,000 stores in the U.S., and whose annual revenues total US$25 billion.

In the complaint, Seoul Semiconductor asserts that Kmart is selling LED products that infringe eight patents covering fundamental LED technologies, including high CRI enhancement with phosphor combinations, LED epitaxial growth, LED chip fabrication, multi chip mounting technology, omni directional LED lamp technology, and Acrich MJT technology. The accused product includes an LED filament bulb that is gaining widespread consumer attention in the U.S. as a replacement for traditional incandescent bulbs.

Seoul Semiconductor logo. (Seoul Semiconductor/LEDinside)

One of the asserted patents was invented by Shuji Nakamura, recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for his remarkable contributions to blue LED development. Another co-inventor is Dr. Steven DenBaars, a professor of Materials and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Seoul Semiconductor has continuously succeeded patent enforcement actions since its successful enforcement case against Taiwan-based AOT Inc. in 2003. Last year, Seoul Semiconductor filed successful patent infringement actions against multiple North American TV makers, resulting in a judgment for infringement and/or payments for past damages. This year, Seoul Semiconductor won a unanimous jury verdict against Japanese LED lens maker Enplas, in which the jury held, and the U.S. district court upheld, a finding that Enplas willfully infringed Seoul Semiconductor’s patented technology and is liable for US$4 million. Seoul Viosys, a co-plaintiff in this latest lawsuit, has also pursued active enforcement campaigns, resulting in a judgment for infringement as well as payments for past damages and a royalty licenses against U.S. UV LED curing device maker. Recently, Seoul Viosys filed another patent infringement lawsuit against an UV LED insect trap maker in the U.S. 

Consistent with Seoul Semiconductor’s commitment to protecting its valuable patented technology, Seoul Semiconductor has engaged Latham & Watkins, a world-leading litigation and intellectual property firm. Leading the charge for Seoul Semiconductor at Latham is partner Larry Gotts. Gotts is consistently recognized for his trial success by leading industry publications such as Chambers Global and Legal 500, including being named one of the top “10 Most Admired IP attorneys” in the US by Law360. Gotts was also the lead counsel of Seoul Semiconductor’s infringement lawsuit against Enplas, in which SSC succeeded in obtaining a willful infringement judgment.

Ki-bum Nam, Vice President of the Lighting Business Department at Seoul Semiconductor, said, “We have invested tremendous resources for environment-friendly technology innovation for 25 years, and as a result, we have successfully commercialized a various kinds of the first-developed technologies.” Nam added, “Respecting intellectual property is essential for technology innovation and fair market competition, but there are numerous LED products currently on the market that infringe our intellectual property. To create a fair market competition, we continuously take any and all actions necessary to deter such infringement and protect our intellectual property.”

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