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Thursday, August 17, 2006

IP-Secure Lighting Alliance

LEDs Magazine has an article on an industry alliance that will help small LED manufacturers get around the mire of patents strewn across their path. While Cree and Osram can cross licese patent portfolios, the very broad patents in the GaN space has constrained innovation by smaller players.
A new LED industry alliance has been formed to bring together LED industry suppliers who are able to certify that their products do not infringe on other companies' intellectual property. The intention appears to be to help these suppliers compete with other companies that have a strong IP position and which are currently the preferred suppliers for system-level customers.

The clumsily-named Intellectual Property Secure Lighting Alliance (we think "IP-Secure Lighting Alliance" reads better), or IPSLA, is a network of solid-state lighting component suppliers who believe that respecting IP is essential to accelerating the adoption of solid-state lighting.

Members are required to certify that qualified patent attorneys have reviewed their products and processes, with reference to existing IP, and found them to be non-infringing at all levels (for more details, see "Progress and procedures", below).

Whether such certification will actually protect member companies from legal challenges by other patent holders remains to be seen. However, membership of IPSLA is likely to provide customers with a higher level of confidence that their supplier will not become embroiled in patent lawsuits and injunctions that could interrupt lines of supply.

Companies that develop LED-based modules and fixtures currently tend to choose from a limited set of "IP-friendly" sources for LED chips, phosphors and packaged devices. Otherwise, these companies risk exposing themselves to the consequences of using potentially infringing products.

The IPSLA was formed by BridgeLux (formerly eLite Optoelectronics), a supplier of power LED chips, and Intematix, a supplier of LED phosphors. The companies say that conformance to IPSLA’s guiding standards will enable emerging companies, working on innovative LED packaging and module integration, to more rapidly penetrate high-volume lighting market segments worldwide.

"LED chip packagers are coming to understand that there are IP-secure and patent-protected merchant alternatives for such things as phosphors and power LED chips," said Intematix VP of Engineering and co-founder, Yi Qun Li. "This alliance is a means to both provide security and open up additional supplier opportunities to the module integrators."

The current cross connections on the patent front can be accessed here.

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