updated 10:57 pm EST, Wed January 15, 2014
Lawsuits launched over soon-expiring blue LED patent
A spate of lawsuits launched in 2012 over a patent held by a Boston University engineering professor have largely been settled, with a number of big-name tech firms -- including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung, Nokia and others -- agreeing to a licensing deal through "defensive intellectual property firm" RPX rather than continue litigation. The patent in question covers blue LED, essentially used in all LED-base tech devices, and which was due to expire soon.
The university did not disclose dollar figures in its announcement, but noted that more than 10 of the 25 firms it had sued over the technology in 2012 have settled, including Acer, Dell, HTC, HP, Google-owned Motorola and Nokia. The school noted that it expected to announce additional licensees in the near future, indicating that most if not all of the companies involved in the lawsuits are expected to settle.
The university apparently discovered that one of its valuable patents, detailing the specific methodology making an LED turn blue, was due to expire soon, and launched a raft of litigation in an attempt to secure licensing fees ahead of the patent's sunsetting. "About a dozen" equipment manufacturers, such as Kodak, have not yet reached an agreement with the school, it reported.
San Francisco-based RPX is handling the licensing agreement, and is itself paying Boston University for the right to represent that patent and the school's interests on it. The company has likely been warning technology firms that it will sue for past infringement once the patent expires if the companies don't have a retroactive license agreement in place.