Atlanta LED manufacturer NanoLumens has filed four patent infringement lawsuits against competing companies it says are marketing knock-offs of its flexible LED display panels, called nixels.
The federal court lawsuits have been filed in the US head office states of four companies: PixelFLEX, of Nashville, Tennessee; InFiLED USA, of Marietta, Georgia; DetaiLED Solutions, of Marietta, Georgia; and Gable Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. The suits all seek unspecified damages stemming from the companies’ infringement of four United States patents issued to NanoLumens.
NanoLumens CEO Rick Cope says the decision to take formal legal action comes in the wake of letters and phone calls attempting to reach some sort of agreement he hoped would see the companies acquire licensing approval from NanoLumens to use the flexible design.
That didn’t pan out, he says, so they’ve gone to court, knowing it will be time-consuming and expensive. “I don’t go into this lightly,” says Cope, adding he knows he’ll win, having had intellectual property lawyers first done a deep look into the company’s own patent portfolio and relevant patents filed and granted to other companies. “We’ve done our homework.”
“NanoLumens has invested millions of dollars and man hours in the development of pioneering innovations that have been justly recognized by the United States Patent Office,” Cope says in a press release. “Patent protected innovation is what makes the United States the leading innovator that it is. Failure to protect against patent infringement opens the door to the death of innovation and that is not something that this company will ever stand for.”
The company has also sent letters raising its concerns with other manufacturers, but has not filed suit against them – opting for now to focus on companies that have US offices. The great majority of the LED display manufacturers active in the digital signage market are based in China, and the US companies are in many to most cases relying heavily on Chinese components.
Cope says he’s not done with new filings, however. “There will be a continuous wave of activity this year.”
These lawsuits, says the press release, allege that PixelFLEX, InFiLED USA, DetaiLED, and Gable Company have, in one form or another, infringed upon US Patents 8,963,895 (Ubiquitously Mountable Image Display System), 9,159,707 (Flexible Display), and 9,640,516 (Flexible Display Apparatus and Methods), all of which are owned by NanoLumens. NanoLumens currently holds over a dozen United States Patents covering virtually every aspect of its flexible LED display design and engineering, with more patents pending.
“These four companies are benefitting from the use of NanoLumens’ proprietary technology that we have invested considerable time and resources in developing,” Cope says. “Our intellectual property is the core of our company’s uniqueness and we will vigorously protect it.”
The technical description of the Nixel is that it is a display module that can “seamlessly tile and re-tile display surfaces, accept a wide continuum of changing curvatures and placements, and maintain pixel-to-pixel uniformity.”
The company, says Cope, has also started working with a pair of other US-based competitors – Watchfire and Daktronics – to develop a common front and effort to raise awareness and counteract overseas manufacturers they collectively say are skirting or ignoring FCC regulations. Here’s what Watchfire says about that issue.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.