UC files new complaint in lightbulb licensing dispute
Efforts to secure licenses for UC Santa Barbara’s LED lighting patents entered a new chapter on Aug. 31, with the launch of a second round of complaints against major retailers.
Filed by Nixon Peabody on behalf of the Regents of the University of California, the complaint calls for an ITC investigation of imports by General Electric, Savant Systems, Feit Electric, Home Depot, Ikea, and Satco Products.
The products in question use LED technology developed at UCSB to produce highly efficient filament lightbulbs with a “vintage” style reminiscent of a traditional incandescent bulb.
The move follows a series of settlements with defendants from a prior complaint in April that targeted sales of the lightbulb products by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, IKEA, Target and Walmart. The action, which has since been withdrawn, resulted in a settlement with Bed Bath & Beyond and licensing agreements with retailers and manufacturers, including some not named in the original suit.
“Since we began the campaign, we’ve had more than a dozen new licensees, many of which are suppliers to retailers who are named in that investigation,” said Seth Levy, a Los Angeles-based partner at Nixon Peabody.
That prompted the UC Regents to refocus the enforcement campaign, Levy said.
The ITC is expected to decide whether to take up the case by the end of September. The investigation is part of a “hybrid” strategy that seeks injunctive relief, Levy said, in addition to monetary damages through a series of U.S. District Court lawsuits.