LONDON Customs authorities in the U.S. are set to start blocking the import into the country of Epistar Corporation's LEDs that infringe patents held by Philips's Lumileds lighting operation.
The move follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denying Epistar's motion to stay an International Trade Commission exclusion order prohibiting importation of Epistar's OMA, MB, and GB products into the United States.
The ITC had already denied a similar request by Epistar (Hsinchu, Taiwan).
The exclusion order also prohibits any other Epistar LEDs that infringe Philips Lumileds' U.S. Patent No. 5,008,718, as well the importation of packaged LEDs containing the infringing Epistar LEDs and boards consisting primarily of arrays of such packaged LEDs.
Philips is warning that companies that use, import, or sell these unlicensed infringing products, even unknowingly, are direct infringers of Philips Lumileds' patent and subject to the exclusion order.
The Dutch conglomerate acquired control of Lumileds, the Agilent spin-off that pioneered many of todayís LED technologies and applications, almost two years ago.
In denying Epistar's request to stay the exclusion order, the Federal Circuit concluded that Epistar did not meet the key criteria, such as "likelihood of success on the merits" of its appeal or the demonstration of "a substantial case on the merits" to obtain a stay.
Philips says these comments and the ruling reinforces Lumileds' confidence that the appeals court will ultimately agree with the ITC's findings of infringement and reject Epistar's appeal.
Philips Lumileds also has a pending action in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in which it is asserting its patent rights against Epistar and seeking both damages and an injunction.
Late last month Epistar said the U.S. Customs ruled that its latest generation of ultra bright AlGaInP LEDS, sold under the Phoenix and Aquarius brands, are not subject to the same, limited exclusion order from the ITC and the company will continue to supply these for use in the U.S. market.
The two companies have been fighting one another in the courts for several years over the vailidty of patents related to LED technologies.