Harvatek and Nichia U.S. LED Patent Lawsuit Analysis

News Source: 
STPI (國家實驗研究院科技政策研究與資訊中心)

Another Taiwanese LED manufacturer aside from Everlight has joined in patent wars against Nichia, this time Harvatek Corporation (Harvatek), according to a report by Taiwan’s Science and Technology Policy Research and Information Center (STPI). The company has reignited patent wars against Nichia on Nov. 5, 2013. Harvatek filed a complaint against Nichia and its U.S. subsidiary Nichia American Corp. (Nichia) that their LED products had infringed its patents at the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division. The Taiwanese company has also asked the court to ban Nichia’s infringement action and demanded compensation from the Japanese company.

Although, Nichia is the defendant in this case the company has been very active in initiating patent lawsuits. Not only does the company often separate patents to extend its reach, the company also informs the defendant’s clients during lawsuits to affect the other party’s capability of receiving orders. When Nichia sued Harvatek at the German Dusseldorf Court in 2010, in an attempt to affect the company, the Japanese company notified Haravatek clients about the case. Nichia won the first trial in the German court, but Harvatek appealed the case and the case is currently under second trial.

Harvatek’s recent lawsuit against Nichia in the U.S. is probably to protect its patents and not out of market consideration. For the Taiwanese company, the U.S. is not its main market and only accounts for 4 percent of annual sales revenue, while the Asian market accounts for 67 percent of annual revenue. Even if Harvatek wins the lawsuit in U.S., its market share in the country is unlikely to rise significantly. In contrast, the U.S. market is a major market for Nichia, and the damage will be greater for the Japanese company if it loses this case. Therefore, Harvatek’s main aim in suing Nichia is to increase its negotiation leverage during patent lawsuits.

Table 1: Harvatek LED patent lawsuits against Nichia and Boston University

Lawsuit Title Harvatek Corporation v. Nichia America Corporation et al Trustees of Boston University v. Harvatek Corp. et al
Date Filed 2013/11/22 2013/9/20
Plantiff Harvatek Corporation Trustees of Boston University
Defendent Nichia America Corporation;Nichia Corporation Harvatek Corp.;Harvatek International Corp.
File Number 6:13-cv-00901 1:13-cv-12333
Court of Proceedings Texas Eastern District Court Massachusetts District Court
Patents US6,841,934;US6,300,674;US6,008,529;D659,655 US5,686,738
Product LED LED
Complaint Download Complaint  

Source: Organized by STPI on  Dec. 2013

The four patents involved in the U.S. patent lawsuits:

The first patent involved in the case is US6,008,529, named Laser Diode Package. The patent was issued on Dec. 28, 1999 and developed by Jiahn-Chang Wu, while the original patent holder is Bily Wang. Five products and others under Nichia’s NCSU034B series are accused of infringing this patent.

Flat Package for Semiconductor Diodes, with a U.S. patent serial number of US6,300,674 issued on Oct. 9, 2001 is the second patent involved in this legal case. The patent was developed by Bily Wang, with Harvatek as the original patent holder. Nichia is accused of infringing this patent in 23 products under its NSSM032 series.

U.S. patent number US6,841,934, or known as White Light Source from Emitting Diodes is also involved in this recent lawsuit. The patent developed by Bily Want et al was issued on Jan. 11, 2005, with Harvatek as the main patent holder. Nichia is being accused of infringing the patent rights in 32 products in its NFSW157A series.

The last patent in this case is a design patent, LED package base, with the serial number of D659,655. The patent issued on May, 15, 2012 was developed by Bily Wang with Harvatek as the original patent holder. Nichia is accused of infringing this patent in three products in its NNSW208C series.

In addition, Harvatek has been sued by Boston University in a U.S. LED patent lawsuit two months ago.  

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