Potent patent raid on Blu-ray

Retired Columbia University professor strikes again

Professor Gertrude Neumark Rothschild wants Sony to stop importing PlayStation IIIs with Blu-ray into the USA.

She asserts she owns a patent referring to light-emitting diodes and laser diode technology used by short wave (blue and violet) lasers in products such as hand-held mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, HD DVD players, Blu-ray disc players and various data storage devices. All these products, made by companies such as Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba, infringe her patent and she wants their importation into the USA stopped. Just like that.

She’s filed a suit with the US International Trade Commission which names some thirty companies, all Asian. Afected products include Motorola Razr mobile phones, Sony PlayStation IIIs and Hitachi camcorders.

The suit was filed on February 20th and the timescale is a 45-day response by the judge involved after the investigation starts. The finding becomes final 60 days after it’s issued unless cancelled by the US Trade Representative. Assume the investigation starts on April 1st. The initial finding by the judge comes in the middle of June with finality occurring at the earliest in the middle of September.

Professor Rothschild could be a repeat IP infringement person. An earlier suit for infrigement of patents owned by her against Toyoda Gosei for infringing her patent number 4,904,618, “Process for Doping Crystals of Wide Band Gap Semiconductors,” and U.S. Patent No. 5,252,499, “Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors Having Low Bipolar Resistivity and Method of Formation” through the unauthorized manufacture, importation, use, sale and/or offer for sale of light emitting diodes (“LEDs”) and laser diode created using the processes described and claimed in each of these patents.

A settlement took place and Professor Rothschild granted rights to use the patents to Toyoda Gosei. No financial details were disclosed.

In July 2005 she filed patent infringement suits against five companies involved in solid state lighting, invoking the same patents. The case against Philips Lumileds was settled with undisclosed terms.

The fate of the other cases is not known but her track record is looking good. It looks quite possible that the sued companies will need to settle making Professor Neumark and her lawyers much better off – and so, if her patents are valid, they should be.

Professor Neumark is Howe Professor Emerita of Materials Science at Columbia University, and she invented a way for manufactured LEDS to emit more blue and ultra-violet light. She was the first woman to hold a named Chair in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.

Possibly ironically, she was was employed by Philips Laboratories between 1960 and 1985.

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