Friday, March 21, 2008

Update on Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, and a bizarre result of the democratization of information


Yes, I realize, in a theoretical sense, that in some ways the web engenders true democratization of information, but I never expected this. At least Engadget didn't list me before Reuters.

How did this happen? Quite simple.

Most importantly, I was one of the few people blogging about the Gertrude Neumark Rothschild lawsuit. This is potentially a major case, and certainly names some major companies, but a blog search for Rothschild's name only yields about 37 results. (This will presumably change, now that Engadget is publicizing the case.)

However, I think that there's something more significant than the fact that I knew Rothschild's name. As far as I know, I was one of the few people who searched for the source information - namely, the abstract of the complaint (Short-Wave Light Emitting Diodes, Complaint No. 2601, U.S. International Trade Commission).

And this illustrates one of the benefits that bloggers can enjoy.

I originally sourced my blog post from a February 20 Susan Decker Bloomberg article. Decker was the person who published the complaint number in the first place. Decker obviously knew all about the complaint. But Bloomberg's setup didn't allow Decker to go into detail about everything that she knew. She could only name Sony, Motorola, Hitachi, Matsushita, Samsung, Toshiba, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson within her narrative text.

It would have been "bad form" to include a bulleted list all 34 companies, I guess. Since I don't care about bad form, I just reproduced the entire list.

So, in circular fashion, let's see Endgadget's take on the case:

Oh sure, she looks friendly enough. But don't let her matronly, argyle looks fool you. Retired Columbia University Professor, Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, is looking to extract some cold, hard cash from a who's who of Consumer Electronics giants. Otherwise, they can forget about importing their goods into the US.

Thomas Ricker of Engadget thinks that this new case "has legs."

More at Gizmodo:

Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, the scourge of high-tech companies and freeway drivers, is trying to block imports from Sony, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Matsushita and Samsung, after successfully settling a similar patent lawsuit against Philips last week.

Gizmodo then links to a Forbes reproduction of a BusinessWire press release, dated March 10, in which Sidley Austin LLP announced a settlement in Rothschild's patent infringement action against Philips.

On June 24, 2005, Professor Neumark commenced the action alleging that Philips Lumileds had infringed U.S. Patent No. 4,904,618, "Process for Doping Crystals of Wide Band Gap Semiconductors," and U.S. Patent No. 5,252,499, "Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors Having Low Bipolar Resistivity and Method of Formation" through the unauthorized manufacture, importation, use, sale and/or offer for sale of light emitting diodes ("LEDs") and laser diode created using the processes described and claimed in each of these patents.

For the record, Rothschild is not being prepresented by Sidley Austin LLP in the ITC action, but by Dreier LLP. And Dreier LLP issued its own press release (reproduced by, which describes the reason why everyone is talking about Gertrude Neumark Rothschild right now:

International Trade Commission Institutes Investigation of LED Patent Infringement Case Brought by Columbia Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild

March 20, 2008 9:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to hear a case filed by Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild that seeks to block the importation of a wide array of consumer electronics products manufactured by 30 companies that infringe her patent for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes (LDs).

The action alleges that major electronics manufacturers in Asia and Europe have violated her patent for producing light emitting diodes and laser diodes in products, such as video players using Sony's Blu-ray format, Motorola Razr phones and Hitachi camcorders.

Albert Jacobs, Jr., Esq. and Daniel Ladow, Esq., partners at Dreier LLP in the Intellectual Property Department, are representing Professor Rothschild in her complaint to the ITC, which seeks to block the importation of the infringing products by companies such as Hitachi, Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Nokia Corp., Pioneer Corp., Samsung Group, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Sharp Electronics Corp., Sony Corp., Sony Ericsson Mobile and Toshiba Corp.

"Dr. Rothschild made a seminal breakthrough in the production of the blue and ultraviolet LEDs that are essential to a wide variety of consumer electronics products today," Mr. Jacobs stated. "She richly deserves both scientific as well as commercial recognition for her work."

Professor Rothschild, who is the sole owner of the patent, is currently Howe Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia. She conducted ground-breaking research in the 1980s and 1990s into the electrical and optical properties of so-called wide band-gap semiconductors. This research has proven pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue and violet) diodes that are now widely used in consumer electronics.

She was issued a U.S. patent in 1993 that covers a method of producing wide band-gap semiconductors for LEDs and LDs in the blue/ultraviolet end of the spectrum. Such LEDs and LDs have become increasingly popular in a variety of devices as a superior lighting source because of their reduced power consumption, greater reliability, longevity and greater storage capacity.

In particular, the portion of her work at issue in the ITC case focuses on using gallium nitride-based semiconductor material in LEDs and laser diodes. Currently, gallium nitride material provides the only efficient commercial blue light emitters. The total market for all types of gallium nitride devices has been forecast at $7.2 billion for 2009.

Professor Rothschild settled issues of infringement of her patents with Nichia Corp., OSRAM GmbH, Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. and Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.

Recognized by the American Physical Society as a Notable Woman Physicist in 1998, Professor Rothschild was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982.

Professor Rothschild began her research career in private industry, working with Sylvania Research Laboratories in Bayside, N.Y. in the 1950s, and later at Philips Laboratories in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. She joined the faculty at Columbia University as a Professor of Materials Science in 1985. In 2008, she was selected as a recipient of Barnard College's Distinguished Alumna Award. She has published approximately 90 research articles and given 28 invited talks since 1980.

Background on Dreier LLP

Dreier LLP was founded in 1996 by Marc Dreier as a more responsive and innovative alternative to traditional "large-firm" lawyering. Dreier LLP represents a wide range of institutional, entrepreneurial and individual clients in diverse sectors of financial, industrial and service-oriented markets. The firm's principal practices are commercial litigation, real estate, bankruptcy and corporate reorganization, employment, corporate and securities, entertainment, intellectual property, matrimonial and tax. Dreier LLP's Los Angeles affiliate, Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods George LLP, has its principal practice in entertainment and commercial litigation and corporate transactions. The firm's New York affiliate Schlesinger Gannon & Lazetera LLP has an extensive practice in the area of trusts and estates law. Pitta & Dreier LLP is an affiliate which specializes in labor law, and Pitta, Bishop, Del Giorno & Dreier LLP specializes in government relations. In the 12 years since its founding, Dreier LLP, with its affiliate members, has grown to more than 200 attorneys, with its principal office at 499 Park Avenue in Manhattan, and additional offices in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California; Albany, New York; Stamford, Connecticut; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Interesting that even Dreier LLP didn't bother to name all of the companies that are involved in the action. To find that list, we have to go back to the International Trade Commission again:

March 20, 2008
News Release 08-027
Inv. No. 337-TA-640
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819


The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain short-wavelength light emitting diodes, laser diodes, and products containing same. The products at issue in this investigation are short-wavelength (e.g., blue, violet) LEDs and laser diodes that are used in products such as hand-held mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, HD DVD players (e.g., Blu-ray disc players), and data storage devices.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Gertrude Neumark Rothschild of Hartsdale, NY, on February 20, 2008. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States of certain short-wavelength light emitting diodes, laser diodes, and products containing same that infringe a patent owned by Rothschild. The complainant requests that the ITC issue exclusion orders and cease and desist orders.

The ITC has identified the following as respondents in this investigation:

Avago Technologies of Singapore;
Bacol Optoelectonic Co. Ltd. of Taiwan;
Dominant Semiconductors Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia;
Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd., of Taiwan;
Exceed Perseverance Electronic Ind. Co., Ltd., of China;
Guangzhou Hongli Opto-Electronic Co., Ltd., of China;
Harvatek Internaional Inc. of Taiwan;
Hitachi, Ltd., of Japan;
Kingbright Electronic Co., Ltd., of Taiwan;
LG Electronics of Korea;
Lite-On Technology Corp. of Taiwan;
Lucky Light Electronics Co., Ltd., of China;
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., of Japan;
Motorola, Inc., of Schaumburg, IL;
Nokia of Finland;
Opto Tech Corporation of Taiwan;
Pioneer Corporation of Japan;
Rohm Co., Ltd., of Japan;
Samsung Group of Korea;
Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., of Japan;
Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd., of Korea;
Sharp Corporation of Japan;
Shenzhen Unilight Electronic Co., Ltd., of China;
Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd., of Japan;
Sony Corporation of Japan;
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB of Sweden;
Stanley Electric Co., Ltd., of Japan;
Toshiba Corporation of Japan;
Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., of Malvern, PA; and
Yellow Stone Corporation of Taiwan.

By instituting this investigation (337-TA-640), the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The case will be referred to the Honorable Paul J. Luckern, an ITC administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. Judge Luckern will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.

The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. ITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.

I had been waiting for some more information on the Rothschild case. I think I found it.

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Francy said...

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Ontario Emperor said...

If it's so accurate, then why does the last sentence have a capital "O" in the word offer? :)

antnay said...

Gee, I guess the guy that actually invented laser emitting diodes (LEDs) ought to get in this action. I worked with him.

Ontario Emperor said...

Also see this BusinessWeek article for more information on Holonyak. Not sure about the relationship between his work and Neumark Rothschild's work.