LONDON The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to hear a case filed by a former Columbia University professor with a 50-year engineering career, Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, who has accused 34 companies including Nokia, Sony, Motorola, and Samsung of infringing her patents for LEDs and laser diodes.
The Emeritus Professor seeks to block the importation into the U.S. of a wide array of consumer electronics products manufactured by the companies that she claims infringe her patent.
Products that incorporate devices that are said to violate the patent include video players using Sony's Blu-ray format, Motorola Razr phones and Hitachi camcorders.
Other companies cited include Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, LG Electronics, Pioneer Corp., Sanyo Electric, and Sharp Electronics Corp.
The complaint with the ITC says Dr. Rothschild made a "seminal breakthrough" in the production of the blue and ultraviolet LEDs, and that she deserves both scientific as well as commercial recognition for the work.
Professor Rothschild, who is the sole owner of the patent, is currently Howe Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia.
She conducted ground-breaking research in the 1980s and 1990s into the electrical and optical properties of so-called wide band-gap semiconductors. This research has proven pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue and violet) diodes that are now widely used in consumer electronics.
She was issued a U.S. patent in 1993 that covers a method of producing wide band-gap semiconductors for LEDs and LDs in the blue/ultraviolet end of the spectrum.
The portion of her work at issue in the ITC case focuses on using gallium nitride-based semiconductor material in LEDs and laser diodes. Currently, gallium nitride material provides the only efficient commercial blue light emitters.
Professor Rothschild has already settled patent infringement cases with Nichia Corp., Osram GmbH, Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. and Philips Electronics N.V.
Philips Lumileds settled a suit earlier this month, while a case against Cree Inc is still pending.