Education

The University of California just took five retail giants to court over light bulbs

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Installing LED lights in your home or business lowers your carbon foot print, energy costs, and LED bulbs last longer than traditional incandescents.

The University of California has launched “a first-of-its-kind” legal campaign against five retailers accused of infringing on a UC Santa Barbara patent – specifically, LED light bulb technology created by a Nobel laureate-led research group.

“The goal of this campaign is to ensure that UC’s patent rights are respected so it can reinvest in education and research to create more world-changing technologies,” said Seth Levy, a Los Angeles-based partner at Nixon Peabody, the firm representing the UC system in the lawsuit. “It also is a message to entities throughout the private sector that university intellectual property rights cannot be infringed with impunity.”

The technology in question is a light bulb technology called filament LED, “which replaces traditional incandescent light bulbs while using about 90 percent less energy and lasting many years longer.”

Foreign companies manufacture these bulbs without paying licensing fees and then sell them to retail giants such as Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond, IKEA, Target and Wal-Mart, all of which are named as respondents in a complaint submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The UC system also has taken the retailers to federal court, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, in separate-but-related lawsuits.

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Lawsuits represent just one side of a legal argument, and are not evidence in themselves of wrongdoing.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to get the retailers to license the bulb technology, and the complaint contains a request to cease-and-desist importing and selling such bulbs until without the university system’s permission.

The lawsuits also seek “the payment of reasonable royalties,” according to a statement from Nixon Peabody.

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