The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has instituted a second investigation into leading retailers and suppliers of filament LED lighting products based on a complaint filed by Nixon Peabody on behalf of the Regents of the University of California (UC). The investigation is a major expansion of UC’s campaign to license its patents on filament LED technology developed at UC Santa Barbara and protect authorized sellers from unlicensed competition.
In this new phase, the ITC will investigate GE Lighting, Savant Systems, Feit Electric, Home Depot, IKEA, and Satco Products for importing and selling imported, unlicensed filament LED lighting products.
UC launched its enforcement campaign in July 2019 with litigation in the ITC and U.S. District Court against five major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target. These actions resulted in licensing agreements with more than a dozen retailers and suppliers of filament LED lighting products that are now authorized to sell the patented technology. During the initial phase, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office awarded UC four new patents on its pioneering filament LED technology.
Building on these successes, Nixon Peabody filed a complaint with the ITC on August 31, 2020, expanding the enforcement campaign to address more of the burgeoning market for filament LED lighting products and to include new patents awarded to UC since the launch of the campaign.
“The ITC’s decision to move forward with this second investigation reinforces the important role universities and their researchers play in creating the technologies that companies regularly produce and sell,” said Seth Levy, a Los Angeles–based partner at Nixon Peabody. “Universities are the nation’s innovation engine and should be compensated like any other patent owner for the use of their inventions, so they can reinvest in future research, innovation, and education. We hope this latest investigation inspires other academic institutions to stand up for their patent rights.”
UC’s patents in this campaign are fundamental to a new generation of light bulb technology known as filament LED, which replaces traditional incandescent light bulbs while using approximately 90% less energy and typically lasting many years longer. Light bulbs made with UC’s patented filament LED technology are often referred to as “Edison” or “vintage” LED light bulbs because they resemble Thomas Edison’s iconic light bulbs with glowing filaments visible inside glass bulbs. This world-changing technology, invented at UC Santa Barbara, saves money and reduces energy consumption and waste at global scale, making meaningful contributions to solving some of the world’s most serious problems.
The Nixon Peabody team is led by partners Seth Levy and Shawn Hansen and includes partners Evan Langdon and Staci Riordan; counsel Vincent Yip and Peter Wied; associates Vince Capati, Paulina Starostka, Angelo Christopher, and Tracy Ickes; and patent specialist Jason Moore.
More information about the ITC’s investigation can be found on the ITC website. Additional information on UC’s patent enforcement campaign, including opportunities for businesses to become authorized sellers of UC’s patented filament LED technology, is available at filamentpatent.ucsb.edu.