The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has instituted an investigation on a list of companies in the electronics industry who may have infringed some patents that cover “short-wavelength (e.g., blue, violet) LEDs and laser diodes that are used in products such as handheld mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, HD DVD players (e.g., Blu-ray disc players), and data storage devices.” When we talk about companies earning from Blu-ray discs, LEDs and HD DVD players we know that the list could be quiet long. The list includes Hitachi, LG, Lite-On, Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia, Pioneer, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba. The person who holds the patents and is behind the lawsuit is Dr. Gertrude Neumark Rothschild. Rothschild is the Howe Professor Emerita of Material Science and Engineering and Professor Emerita of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University, where she’s taught and worked since 1985. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia in 1951. She was connected to Sylvania Research Laboratories and then with Philips Laboratories. She also holds several patents that cover the production of wide band-gap semiconductors in the blue/ultraviolet range (these are presumably the patents at issue, though patent numbers are not given), and she worked specifically in the development of gallium-nitride-based semiconductors.
Previously she filed a suit against both Toyoda Gosei and Philips Lumined over some alleged infringement of US Patent No. 4,904,618 (”Process for Doping Crystals of Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors”) and 5,252,499 (”Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors Having Low Bipolar Resistivity and Method of Formation”). Rothschild and the two companies eventually settled out of court
Sony and the other big companies named in the suit haven’t responded to the allegations yet.