Philips Patent Troll Goes Nuclear! ITC Complaint Against 8 Companies

added by RandyReid September 27, 2017 7:30 AM

EdisonReport has learned that Philips Lighting North America and Philips Lighting Holding B.V. have filed a complaint against:

  • Feit Electric Company, Inc.
  • Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
  • LG Sourcing, Inc.
  • MSI Lighting, Inc.
  • RAB Lighting, Inc
  • Satco Products, Inc.
  • Topas Lighting Corp
  • Wangs Alliance Corporation

The litigation was filed regarding U.S. Patents:  6,586,890; 7,038,399; 7,256,554; 7,262,559; and 8,070328.  This suit is different, and much more powerful than pervious IP litigation from Philips in that it is filed not with the U.S. Patent office, but with the International Trade Commission.  We don’t take the word nuclear lightly, but in the world of IP, an ITC complaint is for more serious as it can prevent companies from importing and/or selling their products.

We know of at least two other companies that Philips is pursuing for IP that are not listed above and we find that curious.

Melissa Kanter, Head of Integrated Communications, The Americas, Philips Lighting, had no comment, and our confidential sources at Philips would also not speak on this matter.

We caught up with Henrik Villumsen, a Danish attorney, who has had success assisting many clients with the Philips patents and who we talked to earlier this year.  We asked Mr. Villumsen some questions about the ITC action by Philips, filed September 21, 2017, and Mr. Villumsen had this to say:

Editor:  We are told that the patents named in this ITC  are the broadest and most vague patents in the Philips Lighting portfolio.

Henrik Villumsen:  There are probably broader and more vague patents in their portfolio, and probably some, that are less. Almost impossible to say meaningfully, if these are ” the broadest” and “most vague”.

Editor:  Do most of these patents expire in four years?

Henrik Villumsen:   Some of them do, yes, but some later.

Editor:  One of our sources explained that  IPRs won’t really help companies defend against this ITC complaint.

Henrik Villumsen:  Well, two of the patents in the ITC action were “IPR’ed” in the US and to a large extent survived, although some claims were invalidated, but one of these patents is still in appeal, though. But they have other patents, that were not asserted in the ITC action, that were more badly hit, including completely wiped out, in the US and elsewhere, but some of them are also under appeal, and the European counterpart of one of the patents, that largely survived in the US, is up for appeal in October in the European Patent Organisation. So to say that invalidity actions don’t help at all, is wrong I believe. But so far it also seems reasonable to say, that such actions have not entirely been a game-changer.

Editor:  Does the government have 30 days to decide if they will investigate?

Henrik Villumsen: I believe that is correct.

Another source we spoke to said that the suit is somewhat confusing and there are things in the suit that just don’t make sense. This source suggested that the suit was thrown together rather fast and even carelessly.  He went on to speculate that perhaps this is their last tool to make the above companies settle.  He said,  “This is Philips last move and they don’t have much left to coerce people into paying them. They have never done this before with this portfolio and it doesn’t look like a good job.”

The ITC portion of this story is still very early and we will continue to report the news as it develops.

27 Sep