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Blue LED patent dispute resolved

28 Jun 2002

Nichia and Osram sign a worldwide cross license agreement for blue-emitting semiconductors.

A bitter patent dispute between Nichia of Japan and Osram Opto Semiconductor of Germany over the rights to blue-emitting GaN/InGaN semiconductors has finally been laid to rest.

The two companies have signed a patent cross license agreement that covers rights to the semiconductor materials and related packaging technology. The worldwide agreement also includes white LEDs that are made by combining GaN/InGaN with a thin layer of phosphor.

Market analysts have commented that patent litigation between Nichia and its competitors has delayed the growth of the blue LED market and kept the price of the devices artificially high.

Several other major producers of GaN/InGaN LEDs including Cree, Rohm and Toyoda Gosei have all recently become embroiled in costly and time consuming litigation. This latest agreement may be a sign that things are changing.

The GaN/InGaN material system is the basis for the ultrabright blue, green and white LEDs as well as violet laser diodes which are starting to find applications in LCD backlights, image scanners, traffic lights and car dashboards.

"We are sure that both partners will profit from this agreement as the patent dispute had brought an air of uncertainity to the market," commented Rüdiger Müller, chief executive of Osram Opto Semiconductor.

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto and Laser Europe magazine.

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