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Nichia Sues UK Retailer Argos Over Christmas Lights

Little sign of Christmas cheer at Nichia, as the Japanese chipmaker seeks damages and an injunction from UK high-street retailer Argos.

Litigious Japanese LED manufacturer Nichia has slapped one of the UK s best-known retailers with a new patent infringement claim.

Lawyers from the company have accused Argos of infringing Nichia s intellectual property through the sale of white LED Christmas lights this season, as well as another product that was on sale a year ago.

Nichia said that at least two of its European patents were infringed by these products, although it did not specify exactly which patents these were.

The Japanese firm is seeking both a permanent injunction and damages from Argos, which at the time of writing was still selling the disputed Christmas lights via its UK web site.

Meanwhile, Nichia has issued a firm rebuttal of claims by the Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor (SSC) that a recent court ruling in Seoul could have an impact on other litigation still pending around the world.

Last week, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) ruled in favor of Baron Tech from Korea in a case against Nichia relating to LCD backlights.

SSC said that the side-view white LEDs under dispute in the case were worth approximately $200 million in annual sales from Nichia to its Korean customers.

SSC, which is a major customer of Nichia s key US rival Cree, added that the decision could have an impact on another lawsuit between SSC and Nichia that is currently pending in the US district court of Northern California.

However, Nichia has strongly refuted this suggestion, indicating that the KIPO ruling was the result of some "particular and peculiar" circumstances that only apply locally.

"The [KIPO] decision will not have any impact on the validity of foreign counterparts in the US, Taiwan, Japan or China," said Nichia in a statement.

The Japanese chip maker even claims that because maintaining its design patent would be difficult under the unique Korean system, it had decided to abandon the case before the decision was even made.

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