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.
- Litepanels Intellectual Property Statement
- U.S. Patent Nos. 7,429,117; 7,510,290; 7,318,652; 6,948,823; and 7,972,022