Lights! Camera! Civil Action! Litepanels Sues Sony Over Film Production LEDs

August 23rd, 2008 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »


Litepanels LLC (Litepanels) is a North Hollywood, California company that makes and sells LED lighting systems for use in film and broadcast production.  Last month Litepanels sued Sony Corp. (Sony) and two of its U.S. subsidiaries in federal court in Marshall, Texas, alleging infringement of two of its patents relating to camera-mounted and wide lighting LED packages.

U.S. Patent Nos. 6,948,823 (‘823 patent) and 7,163,302 (‘302 patent) describe multiple LEDs arranged on a panel that can be attached to a camera frame (see patent figure below). 

The two patents are related (the ‘302 patent is a “continuation” of the ‘823) but differ in that the ‘823 patent claims embodiments with portable frames that can be attached to a camera while the ‘302 patent claims embodiments having a particular color range, a mechanism for dissipating heat and an element for focusing the emitted light. 

According to the patents, prior LED systems are unsuitable for film and photographic uses because they narrowly focused light, providing a very short working distance and a small illumination diameter.  Also, LED systems for live entertainment typically include colorized LEDs, which create uneven lighting unsuitable for most film, television and photographic applications.

The complaint (litepanelscomplaint.pdf) accuses Sony of infringing the patents by manufacturing, importing and selling camera-mounted lighting products and specifically names the Sony HVL-LBP Camera-Mounted Video Light (top).  Litepanels also makes the standard allegations of willful infringement and inducing infringement by encouraging distributors and retailers to sell allegedly infringing products.

Litepanels is seeking enhanced damages and attorney fees and has asked the court to issue an injunction to stop Sony from making or selling the allegedly infringing products.

This is not the first time this year Sony has been the target of an LED patent suit.  Previously, LED innovator Gertrude Neumark Rothschild sued Sony, among many others, in the U.S. International Trade Commission.  Sony quickly took a license from Rothschild.  It will be interesting to see if Sony chooses to fight this one.


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