July 14, 2024

Siemens Sues Samsung and LG Over LED Patents

BERLIN — Siemens, the German industrial group, on Monday sued Samsung and LG in Germany and the United States, claiming the consumer electronics makers infringed on its LED lighting technology, an unusual step in a branch marked by cross-licensing pacts.

The lawsuits claim the two South Korean companies used one of Siemens’ patented light-emitting diode technologies which transforms blue light into white light, a feature used in back-lit, flat-panel televisions and increasingly in common household LED light bulbs.

The German lawsuit was filed in Hamburg. In the United States, Siemens filed its complaints with the International Trade Commission in Washington and in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Siemens said it planned to file related lawsuits against LG in Tokyo and China on Tuesday.

The legal action comes three months before Siemens plans to sell a majority stake in the unit that owns the patents, Osram, the world’s No. 2 maker of lighting technology after Philips.

Analysts said the patent claims could be motivated in part by Siemens’ desire to bolster Osram’s value before the initial public offering, which is tentatively set for September. Analysts estimate the business to be worth €5 billion to €6 billion, or $7.3 billion to $8.7 billion.

But the company also is looking to defend its technology against a growing host of low-cost Chinese rivals, analysts said.

“The Chinese are ploughing billions into this branch and companies like Siemens are on the defensive,” said James Stettler, an analyst at UniCredit Bank in London. He said there are more than 50 companies in China churning out low-cost LEDs for the lighting industry and Siemens’s Osram business was vulnerable.

“This business is going to rapidly become commoditized and I think Siemens is more vulnerable than say, Phillips, which has focused on selling broader lighting systems and not just LEDs, to this trend,” Mr. Stettler said.

Spokesmen in Europe for LG and Samsung could not be immediately reached for comment.

Aldo Kamper, the chief executive of Siemens unit, known as Osram Opto Semiconductors, said Phillips and two smaller LED makers, Cree, based in Durham, North Carolina, and Nichia of Tokushima, Japan, all license Siemens’ LED technology.

Mr. Stettler, the bank analyst, said that Nichia and Siemens were innovators in LED lighting technology and Samsung and LG, despite their size, were relative latecomers.

“With these claims against Samsung and LG we are trying to hinder the unauthorized use of our valuable technologies,” Mr. Kamper said.

Osram, which employs 40,000 people, earned €569 million in operating profit on sales of €4.7 billion in the financial year that ended Sept. 30.

The Siemens chief executive, Peter Löscher, has said he is looking to the sale of Osram to undergird the expansion and reorganization of the German conglomerate.

Siemens, which intends to keep a large minority stake in Osram, could reap as much as €2.5 billion in the sale. The Osram I.P.O. would be the largest held in Germany since Siemen’s 2000 sale of Infineon, its former storage chip division, which raised €6 billion.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b24c64ee7ee1a0a58ec470cfdc07ec77

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