July 16, 2023   

Signify & Current Legal Dispute Escalates

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Signify hits Current with three new legal actions on Friday.  Patent disputes now involve 20 total patents.


A fierce patent disagreement has escalated between lighting companies Signify and Current, with both sides filing lawsuits in recent weeks related to Signify's claims of alleged patent infringement.

The legal battle began June 22 when Current proactively filed a single lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts seeking a court declaration that they do not infringe 18 Signify patents. In response, Signify filed two lawsuits on Friday in the US District Court for the District of Delaware and a third legal action with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Current does indeed infringe its patents.


Two New Delaware Lawsuits

The first Delaware lawsuit asserts that Current is allegedly infringing upon six patents, while the second claims infringement of three patents. The strategy to split the cases by product type may be an attempt to better manage what will likely be an arduous discovery process and to possibly minimize prolonged court proceedings.


Signify is seeking a judgment confirming Current's alleged infringement and a permanent injunction to prevent further infringement. The injunction would extend to the making, selling, using, or importing of any products that infringe the patents. Signify is also seeking compensation for damages, including lost profits or a reasonable royalty, and additional damages for willful infringement.


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Above:  11 + 7 + 2 = 20.  A total of 20 Signify patents are being debated among four recent legal actions.


A third legal action: International Trade Commission

In addition to the two Delaware lawsuits, Signify filed a third action on Friday with the International Trade Commission against Current. Signify seeks a permanent limited exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders against Current's accused LED lighting devices and LED power sources that are claimed to be infringing on Signify's patents.

Signify is also arguing that no public interest issues would supersede the entry of remedial orders if a violation of Section 337 is found. It seeks a limited exclusion order prohibiting the entry into the United States of certain LED lighting devices, LED power supplies, and their components, that are claimed to infringe two of Signify's patents. Signify is also requesting a cease-and-desist order prohibiting Current and its affiliates from participating in any commercial activities related to the allegedly infringing products.


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Above: Part of a statement provided by Signify to inside.lighting on Friday


Current's stance against Signify

In the lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by Current on June 22, Current challenged Signify's claims that they infringed on eighteen patents owned by Signify. However, Signify has not yet been served with the summons for that lawsuit.

Current has also raised concerns about Signify's EnabLED patent licensing program. They allege that Signify has been accusing Current of infringement dating back to 2018 in some cases but Signify failed to provide detailed explanations of the accused infringements during discussions to resolve patent-related concerns. Current categorically denies the claims, arguing that their products do not infringe upon Signify's patents.


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Above: A statement provided by Current to inside.lighting on Sunday



Signify's 9 New Patent Claims
  • The ’577 Patent, ’268 Patent and ’328 Patent are also at the center of the ITC action.

  • The '328 and '965 patents were not cited in Current's Massachusetts lawsuit.


Patent No. Patent Description Accused Products Allegations
7,358,706 A power factor correction apparatus featuring a switch controller and a switch, which control power supply based on certain signal inputs. Lumination Recessed LED Luminaire RPL22 (Model RPL22A03XMM840VQRMWHTE) The plaintiff, Signify, asserts that the defendant, Current's product (Lumination Recessed LED Luminaire RPL22) contains a power factor correction apparatus and switch controller, which matches the description of the patent.
7,262,559 A power supply for an LED light source, which includes a power converter, an LED control switch, and a current sensor. Evolve LED Area Light EANB, Products substantially similar to the above-mentioned Evolve LED Area Light EANB, potentially with different names or part numbers The components and the functionality of the defendant's product, Evolve LED Area Light EANB, seem to match directly with the claim 10 of the asserted patent, such as the presence of a power converter providing a regulated power, an LED control switch controlling the flow of the LED current, and a current sensor adjusting the gain of the differential amplifier.
8,629,631 A switch mode power supply (SMPS) that enables improved start-up time at reduced input voltage through a specific circuit configuration. LED Evolve Security Light E2SA The LED Evolve Security Light E2SA reportedly contains circuit elements that correspond directly with those defined in the patent, such as a rectifier circuit, a SMPS transformer, a power transistor switch, and a SMPS controller, among others.
7,654,703 A luminaire with two compartments. The first houses LEDs, while the second holds a driver for controlled electrical energy. It includes features for heat dissipation and thermal isolation. Evolve LED Area Light EALS, GE UltraMAX Programmable LED Driver (model GED150MC) The Evolve LED Area Light EALS has been found to contain design elements that align with specific claims of the '703 Patent, including a housing defining two internal compartments, one with LEDs and the other with a driver for the LEDs, both compartments thermally isolated and configured for heat dissipation.
9,249,965 A lighting device featuring thermally-coupled light source and driver, separate heat sinks, air gap for thermal decoupling, and an envelope for the light source with a cooling channel. GE LED HID Replacement model 93986445 The GE LED HID Replacement allegedly contains features outlined in Claim 1 of the '965 Patent, including a light source, a driver spatially separated from and configured for powering the light source, a light source heat sink to which the light source is thermally coupled, a driver heat sink to which the driver is thermally coupled, and an envelope for enclosing the light source which defines a cooling channel. This cooling channel extends from an air inlet to an air gap that provides thermal decoupling between the light source heat sink and the driver heat sink.
7,670,038 A device comprising an LED and a collimator to create a defined, non-uniform light intensity distribution. The device is asymmetrical regarding a collimator sectional plane. Evolve LED Area Light EALS, Other unnamed products with substantially similar features to Evolve LED Area Light EALS, referred to as the '038 Accused Products. The accused products, such as the Evolve LED Area Light EALS, allegedly possess components and features (LED, collimator, light intensity distribution) which mirror those detailed in the '038 patent's claims, constituting direct infringement.
8,063,577 A driver circuit for operating a light emitting diode (LED). The driver controls the current supplied to the LED and has specific circuitry features, including a resonant capacitor, a transformer, and a buffer circuitry with an inductor to ensure a constant current to the LED. Lumination LED Recessed Luminaire, Other products substantially similar to Lumination LED Recessed Luminaire with similar features The Lumination LED Recessed Luminaire and other similar products contain circuit elements that directly correspond to the '577 Patent's specifications. For example, they include a resonant capacitor, a transformer, and a buffer circuitry with an inductor, as outlined in the patent.
8,070,328 An LED downlight fixture with a unique multi-piece reflector assembly and a diffuser that helps regulate thermal connectivity. LRXBR 6inch Downlight The LRXBR 6inch Downlight product matches the specific design attributes mentioned in claim 1 of the patent '328, such as having an array of LEDs in thermal connectivity with a heatsink, a multi-piece reflector assembly, and a diffuser.
9,119,268 A driver circuit used for driving a light circuit that includes at least one light-emitting diode. It includes components like an isolation transformer and two capacitance elements with specific characteristics. Albeo LED Luminaire (Modular High & Low Bay) The plaintiff, Signify, asserts that Current's product, the Albeo LED Luminaire (Modular High & Low Bay), infringes the patent as it includes an UltraMax™ Programmable LED Driver which operates LEDs in a way described by the patent. Furthermore, the product also includes isolation transformers and capacitance elements matching the description of the patent claim.
Signify’s IP Enforcement History

From the well-respected patent lawyer David Radulescu's webinar in May 2023 we remember that Signify has only had one of its patent infringement lawsuits reach a jury trial and verdict in the 14-year history of its program. In the 2019 decision, the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that Lowe’s, Satco and others had not violated any of Signify's asserted patents, effectively clearing them of the infringement accusations.

It's worth noting that other legal cases involving Signify’s patent assertions have been resolved without a full trial. These cases typically conclude with either settlements (that may possibly lead to an EnabLED licensing agreement) or default judgments, which usually occur due to the defendants' failure to respond to the allegations.


This legal battle comes after years of out-of-court patent debates between the two companies, with Signify apparently seeking to move patent infringement allegations into Current’s participation in Signify’s LED licensing agreements through their EnabLED program. 

Current is now awaiting being served with the summons for the lawsuits filed against them. Once served, they will have at least 21 days to respond with a filing. The legal showdown between Signify and Current could be very prolonged as the courts and ITC wade through these patent infringement disputes.