A Nichia “victory??? in an LED design patent case where Seoul made only two sales of infringing products amounting to $62 in damages; the court awarded a judgment of the $250 statutory minimum. (See my posts on this case here and here.) A Nichia suit accusing Seoul of false advertising and unfair competition in connection with Seoul press releases claiming the company’s accused products were “actually non-infringing??? and it had “substantially prevailed??? in litigation when in fact a jury had found Seoul willfully infringed all four Nichia design patents. (See my post on this case here.) A Seoul suit accusing Nichia of monopolization and attempted monopolization by pursuing baseless lawsuits to preserve its monopoly power in the white side-view LED market, including allegedly contriving a fake purchase of Seoul LEDs just to create a U.S. sale and establish jurisdiction for an infringement suit. (See my post on this case here.)One interesting epilogue is that Nichia put out a follow-up press release taking pains to deny any cooperative arrangements between Nichia and Seoul that might suggest collusion or other anti-competitive behavior. The press release noted some media reports of cooperation between the two competitors, which may have included Communist media because Nichia made clear that it is “by no means a ‘comrade’ of [Seoul].??? The LED wars between Nichia and Seoul involved so many lawsuits and so much bad blood, that it reached the point where a new complaint filed was no longer news. But the bitter rivals finally making peace is definitely news. Eric Lane is a patent attorney and intellectual property lawyer at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego, where he is in the Intellectual Property and Climate Change & Clean Technology practices. Eric is the founder and author of Green Patent Blog, which provides discussion and analysis of intellectual property law issues in clean technology.
Silver Spring, the high-profile startup that’s providing the communications and networking equipment for hundreds of thousands of smart meters being deployed by Pacific Gas & Electric, Florida Power & Light, American Electric Power and other utilities, has been on the ZigBee bandwagon for months.
That makes sense, since the protocol based on the 802.15.4 standard is emerging as a favorite for bringing communications from smart meters to in-home power monitoring and control equipment.
Being part of Silver Spring’s system puts Exegin in the smart grid spotlight. The companies have been working together since September, but on Thursday announced that Silver Spring was licensing Exegin’s ZigBee PRO protocol stack software for the ZigBee radios that are a part of Silver Spring’s network interface cards.
Those ZigBee radios are now going into the “vast majority??? of the communications cards Silver Spring is putting in other vendors’ smart meters, James Pace, Silver Spring senior director of business development, said Thursday.
As of this week, PG&E had deployed more than 150,000 Silver Spring-enabled electric meters out of the million it plans to have in place by 2011, and Silver Spring hopes to see up to 2 million meters deployed by the end of this year, he said.
Other companies in Exegin’s line of business include Alektrona and Digi International. All three are members of the ZigBee Alliance, the industry group that has developed the “smart energy profile??? version of the protocol for use in so-called “home area networks??? — the hoped-for future realm of home energy displays, smart thermostats and appliances that can monitor power use and curtail it on the command of homeowners or utilities.
One reason Silver Spring chose Exegin, Pace said, was for its experience in “bridging and gateway technologies.??? That’s important, because ZigBee is competing — or perhaps collaborating — with an alternative form of in-home communication that uses existing electrical wiring to carry data.
Companies working on power line communication include Echelon Corp. with its power line signaling technology, and a host of companies that are working on an alternative technology under the umbrella of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance.
In September, the ZigBee and HomePlug groups agreed to work together with a number of utilities to create a common application layer for both technologies.
Carrying data over power lines could make more sense for apartment buildings and other larger multi-family residences, where electric meters may be in the basement, too far away for ZigBee to carry. Then a gateway device could bridge that to ZigBee radios in individual apartments.
And Exegin’s experience in making devices like its ZigBee-to-Ethernet gateways could easily translate to making a ZigBee-to-HomePlug gateway, Pace said.
“There are a number of people playing with that technology,??? he said.
When we listed the incentives in the $787 billion federal stimulus package two weeks ago, we reported that a provision that would convert the 30 percent investment tax credit into a cash payment for commercial solar projects would also apply to residential solar installations. It turned out the information we received from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was incorrect. A rep for the SEIA now tells us there was “some miscommunication down the chain.???
We'd like to thank Kirstin Hoefer, chief marketing officer for Sungevity, a solar installer in Berkeley, Calif., for explaining that residential installations won’t benefit from the cash-payment provision. But they will still get the 30 percent tax credit.
The idea behind turning the tax credit into a grant is to make the money available sooner for large-scale projects. Because of the credit crunch, bankers and other investors have been reluctant to loan money to developers looking to raise millions of dollars to build and operate each solar power plant.