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Professor sues tech giants over laser patent infringement

Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild says 30 companies are infringing on her patent for laser and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In response, she wants the U.S. government to ban those companies' imports to the U.S. that are in violation. A lot of companies use LEDs and laser diodes for a variety of reasons –Sony uses blue laser diodes in its Blu-ray players, for example, and LEDs are used as light sources in TV and notebook computer screens.

The U.S. International Trade Commission gave Rothschild a boost when it recently agreed to investigate all 30 companies over her claim. In a statement ITC said “it has voted to institute an investigation of certain short-wavelength light emitting diodes, laser diodes, and products containing same. The products at issue in this investigation are short-wavelength (e.g., blue, violet) LEDs and laser diodes that are used in products such as hand-held mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, HD DVD players (e.g., Blu-ray disc players), and data storage devices.”

The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation “at the earliest practicable time.” Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. ITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.

By instituting this investigation (337-TA-640), the ITC says it has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case.

Rothschild has a history of standing up to protect her rights: she sued two companies in 2005 over similar semiconductor patents and settled with them out of court.

Story filed 29.03.08

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