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Litepanels Attempts to Clear the Air Regarding LED Patent Infringement Case

10.8.12 @ 7:46AM Tags : , ,

There has been an ongoing discussion about the patent case with Litepanels and a number of other manufacturers. In the case, Litepanels is claiming infringement, and requests that the manufacturers in question license the technology. There may or may not be some confusion about what is actually going on, but Litepanels has decided to release a public statement of sorts to hopefully help people understand their position and how it may affect the industry.

Thanks to Cinescopophilia who has been following the case since the beginning. Here is the message in its entirety:

Is Litepanels trying to claim that they own the patent on all LED panel based video lights?

Litepanels filed for patent protection of its technology when we first began developing the application of LED for use in the media/creative arts of film, television and photography. We do not own patents on all LED technology. In fact, our patents specifically refer to the application of full spectrum, white LEDs for image capture in those mediums. Litepanels lighting products also include a number of preexisting technologies for which we pay licensing fees to the owners of those patents. We seek similar licensing agreements with companies that wish to use our intellectual property.We are firm believers in free, fair competition and the patent system that allows our economy to flourish. In order to protect the specific technology we developed, Litepanels was required to prove the validity of our patents, and the facts of this particular case have been heard and decided in an unbiased and open forum. The defendants were allowed ample opportunity to present their best evidence and arguments against the validity of our patents, with the result that our claims to our intellectual property were upheld.

Why are these products patent-worthy?

Litepanels was founded by industry professionals with backgrounds in lighting, professional photography and engineering who understand and appreciate the importance of protecting intellectual property. In the entertainment and creative industries, intellectual property can be a screenplay or an iconic photograph. Our intellectual property consists of the technology which makes full spectrum, white light emitting diodes useful for illumination and proper image capture in the creative arts. The design, development and effective implementation of LED technology evidenced by our patented products took years to research, test, develop and manufacture.Clearly LEDs alone cannot constitute a product sufficient for professional use in photographic applications. There are a number of technical challenges that had to be overcome before LEDs could be employed effectively for such purposes. These challenges included, but were not limited to: thermal management, precision of color temperature, smooth and flicker free dimming, and the requirements for alternate power input capability. Thereafter all of these technologies had to be combined in a way that would meet the high expectations of film, video and photography professionals.We continue to develop, design and assemble innovative fixtures based around full spectrum, white LED technology, a pursuit which allows us to employ dozens of people in our Los Angeles office and assembly plant.

Is Litepanels trying to use their patents to block competition and force everyone to pay higher prices for LED lighting?

We are not trying to monopolize or block all LED lighting fixtures from the market. The recent ruling is directed at manufacturers who are unwilling to pay licensing fees and infringe on Litepanels’ intellectual property. In fact, there are a number of companies who have chosen to license our technology in order to build their own LED fixtures, just as we license some technology from others for our products. We welcome more manufacturers to license and implement our technology to ensure its widest possible acceptance throughout the market. We do not expect the results of these intellectual property conflicts to dramatically affect the prices of LED fixtures in the future.There are also companies in the industry who have taken it upon themselves to establish their own research and development initiatives to create new kinds of LED fixtures and other innovative forms of lighting. They are not infringing on our patents and continue to bring welcomed innovation and healthy competition to the market.


I thought it was important to share this entire response, as it helps to provide an equal point of view. I’ve already given my opinion on the issue, and I’ve said that I think the patent system has a lot of issues. If you’ve been following the Apple and Samsung case, clearly there is a problem. The patent system is almost a game that large corporations play, and they know that other manufacturers are technically infringing on their patents, but the system is such that fighting it could be a losing battle. Most of the big tech companies own patents against each other, but often it’s a case of mutually assured destruction, where there is no chance for a positive outcome.

This case is definitely an interesting one, and the results will no doubt have an effect on the industry — in one way or another. If you’ve got an opinion on the issue, we would certainly like to hear it, and we would encourage you to read as much as possible about the case and the patent in question. Below are links to all of the patents in question.

Links:

[via Cinescopophilia]

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 25 COMMENTS

  • As with all these patent infringement and intellectual property battles, the only winners are the lawyers. These cases rarely benefit the manufacturers, and almost never the consumer.

    • They benefit the creators and producers more than anything. Which is a good thing because most of us here are creators. I believe that while their prices are high I do think that they have every right to charge what they want. The idea is to make a profit.

  • Jim Daugherty on 10.8.12 @ 12:12PM

    Litepanels patents are crap…They went after SONY and they got there ass kicked. VITEC is just a bunch of lawyers. Create nothing and take everything.

  • I think we all need to educate ourselves little more before we go off. This is why we have courts, so they can judge what is a valid patent of not. Intellectual property is tricky thing.

    Here is the Litepanels response http://www.litepanels.com/ip

    • Joe Marine on 10.8.12 @ 3:17PM

      I don’t understand why you’ve posted the same link on three separate posts – especially this one, because your link is not only already in my post, but the entire message is posted in its entirety from that link.

  • And you seriously call this ‘clearing the air’? It’s quite obviously simply a PR statement direct from Litepanels, and of course, they are going to speak in their own favor. A more accurate title for you article would have been “Litepanels issues statement regarding lawsuit” Please don’t be a mouthpiece.

    • Joe Marine on 10.8.12 @ 3:12PM

      You should go back and read the title again – it doesn’t say what you think it does.

      • Yep, the title says “Attempts”, as in they’re trying to clear the air. It doesn’t say they did so successfully or not. Read before nagging por favor.

        P.S. Good job keeping us updated on this issue. It’s definitely interesting seeing both sides of the argument. I appreciate the work this site does.

    • Now don’t you feel stupid.

      On topic, I think this is just a lame PR statement that is of little value. I hope they lose. I’m growing to hate this company.

  • It’s like Apple all over again.

    • Exactly… seems al companies get to a certain level of success and then try to kill off the competition by dragging them through litigatious hotcoals…

  • They’re laying claim to LED lights for filmmaking. That’s like an automotive manufacturer patenting the use of an engine ffs. The fact that a judge would uphold this is just insulting.

    • The courts cannot invalidate patents, only the USPTO can do that. Courts assume patents to be valid.

    • No, it’s like they created variable valve timing…and patented it. Or dual stage carbs…or overhead cams. All innovations that were patented! There are LOTS of patents related to the internal combustion engine…don’t kid yourself!

  • I’m with Litepanels on this one.

    It’s easy to get angry and point fingers at some big company (are these guys really even considered big?) doing what most people think is a cash grab. However, when has anyone stole something from you? We are all creatives on this group…well, most of us are…so how do you feel when you find your work copied?

    Litepanels invested time and money into “creating” or “innovating” the use of white LEDs for use as a media lighting technology. They then investing $$$ in securing a patent to protect THEIR work.

    LEDs become super popular for the various advantages they provide and suddenly, every company with two pennies to run together and a contact in China starts selling dirt cheap knockoff products.

    I wouldn’t be impressed if it was my product.

    Where is the competition in that? Where is the innovation in copying someone’s work?

    Zacuto recognized and respected the Litepanels patent and found a different way to produce a competing product. One that provides most of the same basic functionality with a few key differentiators. That’s competition, that’s innovation. That’s what is the most beneficial to us, the customers. It’s choices, selection…companies battlting it out to come up with the best solution for our creative needs.

    Secondly, image you came up with this product. You recognized what the specific needs are and you chose the best components to suit those needs. You product a quality product. Now, since LEDs themselves are quite cheap, it is quite easy to make a cheap product that competes with a quality one. As non-technical users of these products, we are none the wiser. So now the market floods with sub $300 LED units and the general opinion of the industry is that LED lighting is cheap. Now your quality product seems dramatically overpriced and your sales drop…and the industry as a whole doesn’t want to be seen using your product, due to it’s perceived target of cheap, entry level use.

    Not saying this is 100% true in this case, I do know many pros that use LEDs, but generally, most people I speak with have that impression of LEDs as a lighting tool. Wrong or right.

    It’s really easy to pick on the big company, but really, if you guys had put any effort/time/money into creating something, just to see someone else profit from your work, you wouldn’t be impressed either.

    I hope they win.

    • Sean, I don’t think you grasp the overall ramifications of this lawsuit.

      1) Lite panels did not invent the LED. ( Which, by the way, is pretty self explanatory – “light emitting diode”!!)
      hence, their claim to use something that was already developed to “light” – and claim they want the rights to light specific activities – Can anyone say GREEEDY!!!. Gee, I didn’t invent words, but i’d like a patent on every word used in script writing! ABSURD!!!! Furthermore, my town is now installing LED street lights – If i shoot my creative project at night in that light – will I or the city that permits me to shoot be subject to penalty under their patent???

      2) Where is their proprietary technology. Sure, if they developed the LED, or the Switch or the Dimmer used specifically for lighting creative projects – I’ll give you props – and back your patent grab! From what I can see, they’ve gathered together components somebody else developed to build a product that suits a need. EVERYONE has that right!!!

      3) It’s Called COMPETITION IN THE “FREE” MARKETPLACE. If you can’t build it better, or cheaper, or faster and create better advertising to draw in your customers – you shouldn’t be there in the first place – DON’T look to the government to give you the advantage!!!! Why isn’t there only one car-maker. In fact there are a huge variety of car makers with a wide ranging price! A 15k nissan gets you from A to B just like the 150k MBZ! I”D LIKE A PATENT ON EVERY CAR GOING GROCERY SHOPPING – BUT THAT’S LUDICROUS – AND SO IS THIS ATTEMPT TO STIFLE COMPETITION!!! You sound an awful lot like a bitter employee!! It’s the consumers right to choose and it’s all light builders right to build products of varying quality that meet varying budgets!!!

      4) The marketplace is a tough world – people loose investments all the time. Just because light panels invested time and money doesn’t give them the exclusive right to the marketplace! I doubt if they even thought of using LEDs to light for film first – they were just the first to try and grab it from everyone else!!!!
      Suck it up – LitePanels – if you can’t make a product people want at a price point they can afford – don’t force us all to buy it!!!

      This money grab has caused them more ill wlll and bad PR than they know!! Should have put all that energy into promoting your product – or figuring out how to make it cheaper!!!!

      Good Luck!

  • Gary Simmons on 10.11.12 @ 4:50PM

    I have this to say because of my experience with leds. Ligh panel is full of it making a color correct led light panel is as easy as buying the right leds and mounting them. they haven’t done anything except put together a package based on technology they have not invented unless they can prove they have used anything that can not be bought as existing parts before they can claim patent infringments which I do not believe to be the case.
    Sorry but just because you call it video or photographic light does not make it a new product where is the evidence of proprietary technology. did they invent a new LED if so then noboady else should be able to buy it. I have made LED Panels for other applications, they big flat panels there are companies that make generic panels with power supplies I bought mine from china and this was 4 years ago. Lets wait to see the truth before we judge one way or the other. As for me the judge has ruled prematurely in their favor. lets see proof they are doing something new.

  • So, with all of this patent system garbage, will projects like

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rdeeds/bloom-the-interactive-lamp?ref=home_location

    be near worthless?

    I mean it could be used as a practical…….

  • I guess it’s time to put LEDs in a plastic case, show a picture of a car headlamp, and request a patent for LED Illumination for Automobile Applications. And then sue everyone and say I patented it. Or put flueorescent lights in a rectangular box and get a patent titled Fluorescent Illumination for Retail Applications. The bozos at the patent office who approved the Litepanels patent should be fired. And so should the judge for lack of common sense.

  • If this is true I am the creator and have active patent for the dimmer switch and would like to be paid every time lite panels are sold using my invention. Let’s see, how much does lite panels owe me??????

  • http://www.itcblog.com/20110808/litepanels-files-new-337-complaint-regarding-certain-led-photographic-lighting-devices/

    According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to advanced camera-mountable and standalone lighting systems for use in television, broadcast news, and motion picture productions. In particular, the ‘823 patent discloses a system that may include
    1. a portable frame that tracks camera movement,
    2. a mechanism for attachment to a yoke,
    3. a plurality of detachable panel members having a plurality of semiconductor light elements,
    4. an integrated lens for adjusting the focus of the light emitted,
    5. and a color gel that may be securely attached to the frame.

    IMHO, perhaps Litepanel could make an argument on #4.
    http://www.litepanels.com/language/pages/onebyone_bifocus.php
    Their Bi-Focus system that changes from spot to flood may employ clever techniques either invented in-house or purchased patent rights from others.

    According to US patents, the legal criteria includes:
    http://www.bitlaw.com/patent/requirements.html
    A. Statutory,
    B. New,
    C. Useful and
    D. Non-obvious

    Otherwise, I can’t tathom how Litepanels factors such as integration of movable frame mounted to a C Stand, LED bank control (switch or dimmer), or color gel attachments are in any way “non-obvious.” So from 30,000 feet above, this seems like a typical lawyer’s expansive court petition to attack smaller competitors on many supposed technical fronts in hope to shake-up the marketplace. And if their lawyers are sharp enough to persuade the judicial process areas outside their focusing systems are truly novel, that’s the way our capitalistic society works.
    Ciao, Michael

  • Daniel Mimura on 10.16.12 @ 4:57AM

    The “non-obvious” part is why I think they should lose. I don’t think they should’ve gotten the patent. Almost any motion picture photographer would recognize the issues with the intermittent light sources for both the color spectrum and the flicker issues. Basically, the problems with LED are more or less the same problems with fluorescent lights…

    I don’t know the whole history, but it’s not like kinoflo said, because we created a high speed ballast, no other film makers can ever have high speed ballasts without giving us a piece. It’s an obvious problem with fluorescent light…which gets back to that legal term…”Non-obvious”.

    It seems as asinine as if I tried to say, I’m going to patent putting fish tanks on the roof of cars. It’s…”new”…it’s “useful” (if, you know…um…wanted to put fishtanks on the top of cars and not have the fish spill out all over the road)…but it just seems too generic, like, it’s not really an invention of any sort. It’s like if you invented a car that went 1 mph faster than any other car…if that were patented, imagine what would happen to the auto industry…cars wouldn’t be able to go faster than xxx miles per hour b/c Ferrari (or whoever) already had one that went that fast, so they’re patenting their car’s design. (Same for anything lighter, faster, brakes shorter, turns tighter…)

    I hope they go down in flames. I understand they may have a case if they they were awarded a patent, but it should be legally questioned.

    Looking at it another level entirely, high speed ballasts for LEDs (or the solid state circuitry or whatever, cuz I don’t think it’s a ballast) should be required anyway. There are so many flickery tail lights out there…a faster “flicker-free” light should be the law for the public good—not just for litepanels for photography, but for most LED light. Some people are more sensitive than others…it’s the least the world can do since they’re so heavily restricting and phasing out tungsten light bulbs…

  • ….seems to me Litepanels took the idea from a kids game called “Litebirght”…also my dimmer switch broke after I accidentally turned it past 100%…that’s a turn off as it seems it was done on purpose so if you ever so slightly turn to hard wala a broken dimmer…

  • *Litebright

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