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New York Federal Court Upholds Patent Infringement Case of KBT&F Client Columbia University Professor Gertrude Neumark Against Cree Inc.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New York, NY -- Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP ("KBT&F") announced today, that, in an important decision involving infringement of a patent that has revolutionized the manufacture of light-emitting diodes ("LEDs"), a New York Federal Court has upheld the patent infringement case of KBT&F client Columbia University Professor Gertrude Neumark against Cree Inc., a leading manufacturer of LED semiconductors. Professor Neumark's patents for the manufacture of LEDs have led to significant improvements in the quality of flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, automobile lighting and other consumer products.

The July 14, 2008 decision, by Judge William C. Conner of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, denied Cree's motion for summary judgment dismissing Professor Neumark's claims that Cree, through the manufacture and sale of blue and green LEDs, has infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,252,499 (the "'499 Patent"), "Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors Having Low Bipolar Resistivity and Method of Formation." (In her lawsuit, Professor Neumark alleges that Cree also infringes U.S. Patent No. 4,904,618, "Process for Doping Crystals of Wide Band Gap Semiconductors.") Professor Neumark previously settled her patent infringement claims against Toyoda Gosei, Osram GmbH, Philips Lumileds, and Epistar, Inc. leaving Cree as the only remaining defendant in the case.

In its summary judgment motion, Cree argued that it has not infringed the '499 Patent because the patent's scope allegedly could not extend beyond a statement in the patent's preamble which would have restricted the patent to processes in which doping -- a necessary step to increase the electrical conductivity of the LEDs -- is performed on a pre-existing substrate, rather than also during the growth of the substrate of the LED semiconductor.. The Court disagreed, finding, among other things, that the body of the '499 Patent adequately describes a complete process, the statement in the preamble is not necessary to supply any steps for clarification of the patented method, and, therefore, "there is no reason the term" in the preamble cited by Cree "should be deemed a limitation of the coverage" of the patent. The Court also recognized, even before trial, that Professor Neumark's '499 Patent could "represent a substantial advance in the technology of producing short wavelength (blue and green) LEDs . . . ."

Peter J. Toren, a partner in KBT&F's intellectual property group, handled the matter for KBT&F. James D. Zirin and Ashe Puri of Sidley Austin LLP served as co-counsel.

Professor Neumark is one of the world’s foremost experts on wide band-gap semiconductors and LEDs. Professor Neumark is Howe Professor Emerita of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Emerita of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and a Special Research Scientist, Columbia University, New York, New York, where she received her Ph.D in chemistry in 1949. She was the first woman to hold a named Chair in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, is a 275-lawyer firm specializing in complex civil litigation. The firm, with offices in New York, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Newark, principally focuses on commercial litigation, creditors' rights and bankruptcy, employment practices, intellectual property litigation and family law litigation. The firm's clients include leading companies in the financial, high-technology, insurance, manufacturing, chemical, computer, energy, entertainment, consumer products, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries.

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