The South Korean company, Seoul Semiconductor, announced that together with its affiliate, Seoul Viosys Co., Ltd. (collectively “Seoul”) it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Fry’s Electronics, a retail company of consumer electronics. The patent litigation relates to Fry’s sales of various LED television products.
Fry’s operates one largest big-box retailers of consumer electronics in the United States. It has 17 mega-stores in California and employs about 14,000. Fry’s currently sells more than 300 LED television models featuring twenty-five different global TV brands.
Patent Lawsuit Against Fry’s Covers Technology for LEDs, Backlight Unit Systems, Backlight Lenses, and UCD Phosphors
In its patent infringement complaint, Seoul asserts that certain LED TV products sold at Fry’s stores infringe 15 of Seoul’s LED patents that pertain to manufacturing processes for LED backlight units. In this latest lawsuit, Seoul’s patented technologies cover LED TV backlight unit structures, LED backlight lenses for delivering uniform illumination from LED lights, UCD technology for high color gamut displays, LED chip fabrication and epitaxy, as well as LED packaging. The company insists that the patents represent significant technologies that improve the color, brightness, and duration time (lifetime) of all LCD light sources including smartphones, tablet PCs, laptops, and monitors as well as TVs.
The semiconductor company contends that its optical lens technology for providing uniform light distribution on TV or monitor displays is among the most significant LED backlight technologies that it has developed since the earliest days of LCD backlights.
Seoul points out that it actively enforces its patent rights against suspected infringers. For example, in 2016, Seoul prevailed in its patent litigation in U.S. federal court against Japanese lens maker, Enplas. The court ruled that Enplas willfully infringed one of Seoul’s LED backlight lens patents, as well as one of Seoul’s LED backlight system patents.
Seoul Previously Filed Infringement Lawsuits Against North American TV Makers
Over the past several years, Seoul has also filed patent infringement complaints against North America TV maker Craig Electronics and Curtis International for alleged infringement of LED backlight lens and other components patents. Seoul says it successfully obtained patent royalties from both companies.
UCD technology (KSF phosphors) is another of Seoul’s core LED backlight technologies that enable a significant broadening of the color gamut of LCD displays including TVs and smartphones. This UCD technology has been co-developed with a Japanese corporation for some time, and it uses KSF phosphors to generate green and red light and deliver 92-93% of the NTSC color gamut, which is higher than that of OLED.
TV Makers Warned to Stop Using Allegedly Infringing Components
Before the filing of this most recent patent litigation, Seoul delivered notices of alleged patent infringement to manufacturers of various global TV brands, as well as their suppliers who produce TV modules or TV sets in multiple regions of Asia, including China and Taiwan, through original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or original device manufacturers (ODMs). Seoul warned these TV makers and manufacturers that they needed to stop using LEDs and/or other components that probably infringe upon Seoul’s UCD and LED backlight lens technology patents.
“For young entrepreneurs and small business entities to develop innovative products under fair competition culture, it is necessary for market participants to respect other companies’ intellectual property rights,” Sam Ryu, Seoul’s vice president of IT Business, said.
Sam Ryu added, “To prevent distribution of suspected infringing products, we are thoroughly investigating various global TV brand products that may infringe our patents.” Ryu concluded, warning, “If these companies continue to use products that are suspected of infringement, despite our requests to stop, we will take all the necessary legal actions to the end.”