LG Innotek goes to court in preparation for the UV LED market boom

UVA LED curing is the main application in the UV LED market, which Yole Développement (Yole) forecasts will be worth $320M in 2020, up $160M from 2017. Yole’s analysts predict that it will then boom, driven towards $1B in 2023 by UVC applications. UVA LEDs are used mainly for curing applications, like nail dryers but mostly printing. UVC LEDs are starting to be integrated in water disinfection and purification products. Yole expects that this application will become a major driver of the UV LED market within 3-5 years – and it’s against this background that a new legal battle has broken out.

On 25 July 2018, LG Innotek filed UV LED patent infringement lawsuits against several companies, including Evergreat Inc. and its affiliate companies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. This is the first time LG Innotek has filed a patent lawsuit targeting UV LED products.

LG Innotek leads the market with high quality UV LEDs of various wavelengths for curing, exposure, sterilization, and horticulture. Last year, the company demonstrated the power of its proprietary technology by developing UV LEDs for sterilization with the world’s best light output of 100 milliwatts.

California-headquartered Evergreat manufactures UV nail dryers, and is well known for its ‘MelodySusie’ brand. It is also a manufacturer and seller of LED-based decor lights, floodlights and portable lights for outdoor applications.

The patents-in-suit are US Nos. 7,569,865, US No. 7,582,912, US No. 7,785,908, US No. 8,236,585, US No. 8,502,248, US No. 9,209, 360, US No. 9,640,713.

LGinnotek Knowmade article yole august 2018

(Source: KnowMade)

According to the litigation document, Evergreat is using UV LEDs from Epileds in its nail dryers. Epileds is a Taiwanese manufacturer of visible and UVA LEDs. By analysing the patents from Epileds, it appears that Epileds has eight patents, numbers TWI552376, TWI380471, TWI351116, TWI357165, TWI340484, TWI449205, TWM317078 and TWM553495. They are described as similar to LG Innotek patents but only cover Taiwan, while patents from LG Innotek do not cover Taiwan. LG Innotek, even with earlier patents than Epileds’ ones, doesn’t yet seem willing to sue Epileds directly at the moment. Suing a US integrator of its LEDs instead has more impact. This litigation can’t be solved with patent cross-licensing, but instead by financial compensation.

The landscape of UVA LED manufacturers is currently quite diversified, and the industry is in a consolidation phase. LG Innotek is a leading player in UV LEDs and wants to protect its intellectual property (IP). This might be the beginning of several similar actions in the future. LG Innotek has started this lawsuit with nail dryers, which is a low added value application, but there are several other applications with much higher added value around the corner. In UVA, curing for printing applications is one, but the main focus will be on UVC applications for disinfection and purification. There are still few UVC players today, but as progress is made, newcomers are also expected to enter the market. Consequently, this action is most probably a deterrent for the potential UVC IP infringers. We could therefore expect similar actions to be undertaken within the UVC ecosystem in the next few years.

ILLUS UVLED PatentOverview July2018 article yole august2018

(Source: UV LEDs – Technology, Manufacturing and Application Trends 2018, Yole Développement, May 2018)

This lawsuit is a strong signal that a significant revenue stream is around the corner in the UV LED market. LG Innotek is betting big on this part of his business and is readying itself to take a major share of the incoming market boom. It is unusual for a Korean company to sue a US one on IP infringement grounds on US soil, but as the global IP war intensifies, China and Korea are becoming major contenders. The US law courts are the middle ground where most of the action will take place. Here at Yole and Knowmade we will carefully follow the story, and keep you informed ahead of the action.



PierrickBoulay YOLE2015 Pro BD roundAs part of the Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole Développement (Yole), Pierrick Boulay works as Market and Technology Analyst in the fields of LED, OLED and Lighting Systems to carry out technical, economic and marketing analysis. He has experience in both LED lighting (general lighting, automotive lighting…) and OLED lighting. In the past, he has mostly worked in R&D department for LED lighting applications. Pierrick holds a master degree in Electronics (ESEO – France).


ABA Pro GreyBackground BW 2017 roundAudrey Bastard works for KnowMade in the field of Microelectronics and Advanced Packaging. She holds a PhD in Physics from National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble, France in collaboration with STMicroelectronics, CEA-Leti and CEMES Toulouse. She also holds a Materials Engineering Degree from the Superior Engineering School of Luminy, Marseille, France.



Yole Dévelomment and KnowMade are part of Yole Group of Companies.


Sources:   Yole Développement – Knowmade transparent



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The IP section of the UV LED report has been written with KnowMade, part of Yole Group of Companies.