Honeywell, Cree and Boston University End LED Patent Suit


Honeywell International Inc. (Honeywell) and North Carolina LED maker Cree Inc. (Cree) have settled a patent suit that involved infringement claims and counterclaims relating to three LED patents.  The Trustees of Boston University (BU), which also settled, was a counterclaim plaintiff because Cree owns exclusive licenses to two patents owned by the university.

According to a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal filed last month (honeywell_dismissal.pdf), Honeywell, Cree and BU agreed to drop all claims and counterclaims in the suit, and each party will pay its own costs and attorney fees.

In October 2007 Honeywell sued Philips Lumileds Lighting Co. (Philips) and Cree in federal court in Marshall, Texas, alleging that the two LED makers infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,373,188 (‘188 patent). 

The ‘188 patent is directed to a solid-state light emitting device that boosts efficiency by reducing the amount of radiation that escapes from the device.  The patented device is designed to use radiation from an LED to excite phosphors and reflects some of the emitted radiation back to the phosphor layer to further interact with and excite the phosphor material.

Cree subsequently shot back, accusing Honeywell of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 5,686,738 and 7,235,819, both relating to gallium nitride semiconductor materials used in LEDs.

This case has not been without drama.  A previous post reported that the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker (Paul Hastings), which represented Honeywell, was disqualified from the case in January. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham ordered that Paul Hastings be disqualified from representing Honeywell in the suit because the firm’s government relations work for the Philip Lumileds affiliate Philips Electronics North American Corporation while representing Honeywell adverse to Philips Lumileds created a concurrent conflict of interest under the American Bar Association model ethics rules (paul_hastings_dq_order.pdf).

Apparently, Honeywell’s infringement case against Philips will continue, but where it will be litigated remains up in the air.  A sealed motion by Philips to transfer the case to the Northern District of California remains pending.


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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.