We've been following this case now for a little while, but if you aren't familiar with it, Vitec Group, who is the parent company of Litepanels, claimed to have patents on a number of LED technologies related to film/video lighting. The US courts have now confirmed that, and in order to continue importing and selling LED panels, these companies must pay to license and continue using the infringing technology. Cinescopophilia has the full scoop on the result.
Here is their opinion on the matter:
Contrary to the substantial amount of misinformation surrounding this case, the General Exclusion Order will not affect the importation of emergency lighting, cellular phones, automobile taillights, or LED bulbs themselves. It also does not affect other forms of LED lighting used for film, video or photography such as RGB and Remote Phosphor technologies. It simply prohibits the importation into the United States of LED lighting products for film, video or photography that infringe certain claims of the Litepanels patents without the patent holder’s consent.
What does it really mean to you? Not much, and never did. What can you expect to see happen to the Respondents? Well perhaps something similar to what has been imposed on two of the companies already.
F&V and Nanguang must now seek written permission from Litepanels to import into the United States or directly sell for importation into the United States any LED photographic lighting device. If F&V or Nanguang do bring in any LED photographic lighting device subject to written approval by Litepanels they will do so paying license fees and royalties to Litepanels.
So far it seems some of the major manufacturers have already complied and will be licensing the technology, but it's unclear what will happen with the rest. The patents themselves are relatively broad, so I'm not sure what type of LEDs these companies could still make that wouldn't go against the patents that have already been filed.
According to the above information, it will be mostly business as usual, unless you were only getting your panels from overseas from one of those companies above, and they decide not to pay Litepanels to bring the LEDs into the US. Whatever you think of the case, the company does own the patents, and the courts have ruled in their favor. If you were thinking about getting into the LED film/video lighting business, it's probably going to cost a bit more than it would have previously, but the case is now settled, so we will see what happens down the road.
What do you guys think about the case? Do you think this means anything to you personally and your work or business?