Lumileds Lighting

and Nichia Corporation today announced a broad cross-licensing agreement under which the two companies will share intellectual property rights to their respective light-emitting diode (LED) technologies.

The relationship will avert patent disputes and potential associated supply issues. It is also expected to accelerate the design of more powerful LEDs by enabling each company to incorporate the R&D efforts of the other in new product development, thereby paving the way for more rapid adoption of LEDs in the general lighting arena.

This cooperation also offers the opportunity to open a dialogue between Nichia and Lumileds on the establishment of industry standards that will help promote the adoption of high-power LEDs in the general lighting market.

"Legal battles over patents can have a chilling effect on market adoption of LED technology. This agreement will help customers by eliminating any doubts about intellectual property conflict between two of the industry's technology leaders," said Mike Holt, CEO of Lumileds. "This, in turn, will help LEDs to more rapidly fulfill their potential of replacing conventional light sources in everyday lighting applications."

"Lumileds and Nichia have complementary technologies, so it makes sense to cooperate in the interest of advancing LEDs as a lighting solution for the 21st century," said Noboru Tazaki, senior managing director and general Manager of Nichia's Optoelectronics Products Division. "Cross-licensing will help accomplish that goal and expedite the development of brighter and more cost-efficient LED-based lighting."

Lumileds has developed the world's brightest LEDs including the Luxeon™ V, which delivers 120 lumens of white light in a single emitter. That product generates 20 to 120 times the output of competitive packages, or a brightness equivalent to that of a 10W incandescent bulb. Lumileds is a leading manufacturer of both single-color and white LEDs, which are considered key to the general lighting market.

Nichia is the world's largest LED manufacturer and the first to commercialize high-brightness indium gallium nitride (InGaN) LEDs, including blue InGaN LEDs that remain critical to the overall development of solid-state lighting. The company also pioneered white LEDs in 1996 by covering a blue light-emitting InGaN die with a thin coat of YAG (yttrium, aluminum, and garnet) yellow phosphor, which is still considered the simplest and most practical method.

LEDs supplied by the two companies are now used in applications such as LCD backlighting for cell phones, full-color outdoor video displays, color image scanners, traffic lights, and automotive lighting. Technical advances are expected to create a strong market for LEDs in general lighting applications, where the small footprint, low power consumption, and long life of solid-state lighting will give designers the ability to create a new breed of fixtures with tiny light sources that do not need to be replaced for decades.