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Update on the Litepanels Story

by Felix L. Esser on 10/10/2012

About a week ago, we reported about a patent claim and coincidental ITC complaint by Litepanels, which could effectively block the import of LED light panels from other manufacturers into the U.S. We also reported about the website PatentFreeLED.com, who are running a campaign to counteract this possible import blockade of non-Litepanels-made LED light panels. In the meantime, the company has published a statement on their website, trying to explain their side of the story:

Litepanels Intellectual Property Statement

Is Litepanels trying to claim that they own the patent on all LED panel based video lights?

Litepanels filed for patent protection of its technology when we first began developing the application of LED for use in the media/creative arts of film, television and photography. We do not own patents on all LED technology. In fact, our patents specifically refer to the application of full spectrum, white LEDs for image capture in those mediums. Litepanels lighting products also include a number of preexisting technologies for which we pay licensing fees to the owners of those patents. We seek similar licensing agreements with companies that wish to use our intellectual property.

We are firm believers in free, fair competition and the patent system that allows our economy to flourish. In order to protect the specific technology we developed, Litepanels was required to prove the validity of our patents, and the facts of this particular case have been heard and decided in an unbiased and open forum. The defendants were allowed ample opportunity to present their best evidence and arguments against the validity of our patents, with the result that our claims to our intellectual property were upheld.

Why are these products patent-worthy?

Litepanels was founded by industry professionals with backgrounds in lighting, professional photography and engineering who understand and appreciate the importance of protecting intellectual property. In the entertainment and creative industries, intellectual property can be a screenplay or an iconic photograph. Our intellectual property consists of the technology which makes full spectrum, white light emitting diodes useful for illumination and proper image capture in the creative arts. The design, development and effective implementation of LED technology evidenced by our patented products took years to research, test, develop and manufacture.

Clearly LEDs alone cannot constitute a product sufficient for professional use in photographic applications. There are a number of technical challenges that had to be overcome before LEDs could be employed effectively for such purposes. These challenges included, but were not limited to: thermal management, precision of color temperature, smooth and flicker free dimming, and the requirements for alternate power input capability. Thereafter all of these technologies had to be combined in a way that would meet the high expectations of film, video and photography professionals.

We continue to develop, design and assemble innovative fixtures based around full spectrum, white LED technology, a pursuit which allows us to employ dozens of people in our Los Angeles office and assembly plant.

Is Litepanels trying to use their patents to block competition and force everyone to pay higher prices for LED lighting?

We are not trying to monopolize or block all LED lighting fixtures from the market. The recent ruling is directed at manufacturers who are unwilling to pay licensing fees and infringe on Litepanels’ intellectual property. In fact, there are a number of companies who have chosen to license our technology in order to build their own LED fixtures, just as we license some technology from others for our products. We welcome more manufacturers to license and implement our technology to ensure its widest possible acceptance throughout the market. We do not expect the results of these intellectual property conflicts to dramatically affect the prices of LED fixtures in the future.

There are also companies in the industry who have taken it upon themselves to establish their own research and development initiatives to create new kinds of LED fixtures and other innovative forms of lighting. They are not infringing on our patents and continue to bring welcomed innovation and healthy competition to the market.

So basically this boils down to two things:

  1. Litepanels are trying to claim the intellectual property rights for innovations in LED light panel designs they made.
  2. Litepanels are asking licensing fees from other manufacturers who are using technologies based on their patents, just as Litepanels themselves are paying licensing fees for technologies invented by other companies.

Not quite as dramatic, thus, as PatentFreeLED.com make it seem. However, the above statement by Litepanels gives us no clue as to what exactly the patents under discussion are, who is using them and in what way the LED light panel market could be affected by the ITC ruling.

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