Sony and Sanyo to License Semiconductor Patents for Consumer Electronic Devices

Four leading consumer electronics companies including Sony Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., Exceed and Lucky Light, have agreed to license patents owned by a Columbia University Professor Emerita that cover basic semiconductor technology used in Blu-ray video players as well as mobile phones, digital cameras and other devices, Dreier LLP announced today.

The agreements with Sony, Sanyo, Exceed Perseverance Electronic Ind. Co., Ltd. and Lucky Light Electronics Co. Ltd., are the latest settlements reached in an LED and LD patent case against 31 companies that was brought before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) by Columbia University Professor Emerita Gertrude Neumark Rothschild.

Earlier this year, Seoul Semiconductor Co. Ltd, a South Korea-based maker of LEDs, and Taiwan's Everlight Electronics Co. Ltd. signed agreements with Professor Neumark Rothschild, who conducted groundbreaking research in the 1980s and 1990s into the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes crucial to a host of today's consumer electronics products.

Dreier LLP Intellectual Property partners Albert L. Jacobs, Jr. and Daniel Ladow are representing Professor Rothschild in her complaint to the ITC, which seeks to block the imports of infringing products, including video players using Blu-ray format, Motorola Razr phones and Hitachi camcorders, as well as products containing blue, green, violet, ultraviolet, and white light emitting diodes and laser diodes

"These latest licensing agreements are important milestones in this case. Professor Rothschild is very pleased that both Sony and Sanyo, and other major electronics makers have recognized her major scientific contributions to LED and LD technology," stated Mr. Jacobs.

"Professor Rothschild made a seminal breakthrough in understanding the doping requirements necessary for the production of the blue, green, violet and ultraviolet LEDs and LDs on a commercial and efficient scale that are essential to today's consumer electronics, and highly deserves this recognition for her work," Mr. Jacobs stated.

Details of the agreements were not released.

The ITC agreed in March to hear Professor Rothschild's complaint. Of the 31 companies named in the action, Sony, Sanyo, Exceed, Lucky Light and Everlight have since agreed to license her patents for light emitting diodes and laser diodes.

Other companies named in the suit include Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., LG Electronics Inc., Nokia Corp., Samsung Group, Sharp Corp. Sony Ericsson Mobile and Toshiba Corp.

Professor Rothschild, who is the sole owner of the patent, conducted landmark research in the 1980s and 1990s into the electrical and optical properties of so-called wide band-gap semiconductors that has proven pivotal in the development of short-wavelength light emitting diodes (blue, green, violet and ultraviolet) and laser 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, green, violet and ultraviolet end of the spectrum. Such LEDs and LDs have become increasingly popular in a variety of devices as a superior efficient lighting source because of their reduced power consumption, greater reliability and longevity.

While her patent is not limited to gallium nitride-based semiconductor material in LEDs and laser diodes, the total market for all types of gallium nitride devices alone has been forecast at $7.2 billion for 2009.

Earlier this year, Professor Rothschild was honored by Philips Electronics, which endowed the new Philips Electronics Chair in the Department of Applied Physics at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. Recognized by the American Physical Society as a Notable Woman Physicist in 1998, Professor Rothschild was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982.

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