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Nichia and Toyoda Gosei begin talks

13 Aug 2002

Japanese LED makers Nichia and Toyoda Gosei have agreed to open negotiations towards a settlement in their long-running patent dispute.

The long-running patent dispute between Nichia and Toyoda Gosei concerning blue LEDs could at last be drawing to a close.

According to a joint statement published on both companies' websites, Nichia and Toyoda Gosei "have agreed, on technology of III- nitride semiconductors such as blue LEDs, to respect any and all patent rights etc. which the other party owns."

The statement continues to say that the parties will "enter into negotiations in good faith in order to come to an end of any and all disputes and suits in and outside Japan between the parties which lasted for several years."

Over the six years since the dispute began in August 1996, the two companies have each filed numerous lawsuits claiming that the other company was infringing on its patents. The courts in Japan have also been occupied by attempts by each company to have the other's patents declared invalid.

Although Nichia won two patent infringement cases against Toyoda Gosei in 2000, many recent rulings have not gone in Nichia's favor. Toyoda Gosei won two cases in February 2002 to the effect it had not infringed on two separate Nichia patents.

A number of rulings made by the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) concerning the validity of patents have been overturned by the Tokyo High Court. The rulings, with one exception, were in favor of Toyoda Gosei; several patents owned by Toyoda Gosei and declared invalid by the JPO have recently been declared valid, while three of Nichia's patents have been declared invalid.

Nichia consistently stated that it had no intention of negotiating a cross-licensing agreement with Toyoda Gosei, but its firm policy of not working with other companies was broken in June 2002, when Nichia and Osram Opto Semiconductors agreed to cross-license all their patents relating to the manufacturing of white LEDs.

Tim Whitaker is editor of Compound Semiconductor magazine.

Edmund Optics GmbHDIAMOND SAAvantierSantec U.S.A. CorporationSPECTROGON ABLightTrans International GmbHOptikos Corporation
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