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The Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray Disc player could be halted by Rothschild  (Source: Sony Electronics)
Columbia University Professor Emerita claims electronics manufacturers infringe upon her patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last week decided to investigate certain products that contain short-wavelength light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Such may include hand-held mobile devices, instrument panels, billboards, traffic lights, high-definition optical players and data storage devices.

Of note, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, which use blue-violet laser technology, are subjected to this investigation. Companies named in the investigation include Toshiba, Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Lite-On, Matsushita (Panasonic) and LG.

Mobile phone manufacturers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola were also identified as one of the respondents in the investigation.

According to the filing, the investigation is based on a complaint filed in February by Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, alleging that the importation into the U.S. of certain products infringe a patent owned by Rothschild.

Gertrude Neumark Rothschild is a Professor Emerita and Special Research Scientist at Columbia University, from where she also received her Ph.D in chemistry in 1949. Rothschild is no stranger to the patent courts, as in 2006 she reached a settlement with Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd. for infringement upon her LED patents.

Rothschild requests that the ITC issue exclusion orders and cease and desist orders. The case will be referred to ITC administrative law judge Paul J. Luckern, who will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of patent.

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It wouldn't happen but...
By jadeskye on 3/26/2008 8:52:58 PM , Rating: 6
Immagine if, now we finally have a winner of the format war. it's suddenly cancelled due to this infrigement...

i could see a lot of hd av guys committing suicide XD

RE: It wouldn't happen but...
By PCXLFan on 3/27/2008 7:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
Sweet... finally affordable ps3s!!!

Little does Sony realize this could be a boon for them 'console' wise if they are force to start making dvd only ps3 and start releasing new and past games on dvd instead of blu ray.

this comment is made in half seriousness... so its kinda a joke :p

RE: It wouldn't happen but...
By S3anister on 3/29/2008 11:58:29 PM , Rating: 2
Not for Microsoft, that amazing Washington based company would love not having Blu-Ray on the market! Digital distribution anyone?

By jconan on 3/26/2008 9:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
did she invent the types of led used in dvd-roms? i thought shuji nakumura from nichia did? how is her patent relevant?

By PhatoseAlpha on 3/26/2008 9:54:48 PM , Rating: 3
Her patent is specifically for a particular doping process used to create the LEDs, not blue LEDs in general.

By tubalcain on 3/26/2008 9:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhh, the "Rothschild" name not related to some Illuminati conspiracy.

you're missing the point
By inperfectdarkness on 3/27/2008 8:56:35 AM , Rating: 2
if her case holds won't "sidetrack" anything. she'll simply be entitled to licensing fees. she is NOT going to prevent her technologies from being brought to market.

worst case, sony's greed of corporate profit margins being reduced = the cost of BD players not dropping as fast as we'd all like.

this really isn't a big deal. and if her patents are legit, she deserves the royalties.

Just a money maker
By EclipsedAurora on 3/27/2008 1:59:05 AM , Rating: 1
Everybody knows the 1st blue color laser was fired out by a Japanese scientist.

Greedy !@!$*
By chick0n on 3/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Greedy !@!$*
By chick0n on 3/27/08, Rating: -1
RE: Greedy !@!$*
By kemche on 3/27/2008 1:47:53 PM , Rating: 3
Please research before you call someone by name. She is very credited and you should look at her credentials. Here's a link for you to digest.


By inighthawki on 3/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Problem
By snowbro on 3/26/2008 8:58:29 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, and if you were in her position, you'd be looking to receive a HEFTY paycheque, and I am willing to BET, you'd go through with the legal proceedings...

RE: Problem
By geddarkstorm on 3/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Problem
By kkwst2 on 3/26/2008 10:13:54 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, I would bet that it's not as much as you think. Certainly a lot less than most of the execs at the companies she's suing.

The devil, of course, is in the details. If they really took her ideas without licensing them, then she should be compensated. If, as is often the case, they're sort of obvious evolutions in the technology and she just happened to be first in line at the patent office, then she doesn't deserve it.

Unfortunately, the people in charge of making those distinctions are often not qualified to do so.

RE: Problem
By othercents on 3/27/2008 12:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
You would have to be certain that the person who developed the product didn't use her patent, didn't use another product that used her patent, and didn't use an idea that came from a different product design that used her patent. The only way to be certain is if the person designing the product never grew up near any technology and came to the design by pure luck.


RE: Problem
By ElFenix on 3/27/2008 1:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
coming up with the idea independently is not a defense to patent infringement.

RE: Problem
By HighWing on 3/27/2008 6:20:37 PM , Rating: 3
coming up with the idea independently is not a defense to patent infringement.

While I agree with you, at the same time I have to wonder if the fact that just because you came up with it first really should entitle you to hold absolute authority over who uses anything with that design? Basically what I'm getting at is that I think at some point if you/company never really planed to USE or implement the patent, or after X amount of years you never do, you should not be allowed to halt or stop all use of it. Instead you should only be allowed to sue for just compensation. Because the reality is in many cases (I did not say all) these companies never knew the patent they are infringing on existed. And with the turn around time for a patent (5+ years) I bet some of these companies even put in for similar patents and have yet to receive the rejection notice. So they would have no way of knowing that they were not the first. Especailly since it is rather cost prohibitive to conduct an extensive research of all current patents. Meanwhile, doing that research will thus alert other companies to your idea. And lets face it, if we forced a mandatory wait on all products till it receives it's own patent or a patent check passes, all our technology would be 5 years or more behind the rest of the world.

So again I go back to what I said. I really feel that there should be some change in patent law to reflect the use of said patent. Sure I would be upset if I held a patent that x years later someone else steals in a product. But the other side of it is that in the business world, if X years ago I had an idea for a store that would fill a niche in my market, but I never acted on it. I couldn't stop a store from opening up tomorrow with that same idea just because I thought of doing it first. So why are patent holders allowed to do just that?

RE: Problem
By dsx724 on 3/26/2008 9:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
I patented client side dynamic assembly on the web browser so that your browser can store information through javascript. If I was her, I would sue almost every website on the planet for violating my patent.

RE: Problem
By nah on 3/27/2008 9:27:48 AM , Rating: 3
Many people throughout history have done much more for less--Marie/Pierre Curie refused to patent how they discovered radium and polonium--stating that the discovery was for mankind---even though Pierre gave up his life for it. Richard Feynman could (and probably did) have the patent for nuclear powered submarines (although my memories are decidedly fudgy here--read Surely you're Joking. Mr Feynman ?--a wonderful read,by any accounts)

RE: Problem
By djc208 on 3/27/2008 7:11:39 AM , Rating: 3
I'm kind of surprised it's her sueing and not Columbia. I thought most of the patents that come out of university research belong to the University not the professor (or are at least split between them).

My bet is Columbia University is pushing this law suite because the patents belong to them. No college is ever going to back away from money, especially as much as this could bring in.

RE: Problem
By Timeless on 3/26/2008 9:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if this is correct, but I remember someone telling me that Gertrude is suing because the 30 companies in the lawsuit were using a certain way of making the diodes or something like that. If Gertrude does win, I believe the companies will just pay her off. I don't believe there's any way for her to get a d&c order to go through without 30 companies raising hell, esp Sony.

RE: Problem
By eye smite on 3/26/2008 10:15:01 PM , Rating: 5
I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle. It's companies run by people that either don't investigate for patents or ignore them completely that cause production to get halted. Saying she's to blame for the production being halted is delusional and assenine.

RE: Problem
By inighthawki on 3/26/2008 10:28:52 PM , Rating: 1
The point I'm trying to make is...
If everyone stopped worrying so much about money and how they can claim benefits for patenting an idea, technology could move about a lot faster.

If people shared their ideas rather than sell them, we could get a lot more done quickly, AND without any paperwork. Look at linux for example. A nice free open source operating system which thousands of people work on daily to make better. If linux had some sort of protection against modification and only select few people and those who paid to ply with it had it, we would not have anything like what we do today.

RE: Problem
By Lastfreethinker on 3/27/2008 1:20:21 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on some grounds but greed is a great motivator and if I am unable to make money off of my ORIGINAL ideas then I am LESS motivated to come up with things.

RE: Problem
By acejj26 on 3/27/2008 3:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the prospect of making a lot of money is what moves technology faster? My university funded my research and my patent because they knew of its financial prospects.

RE: Problem
By inighthawki on 3/27/2008 4:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
Oh please don't get me wrong. Under no circumstances did i mean (even if i implied, sry) that patenting is a bad idea. I do, however, feel that many people patent things for the wrong reason. Not because it is a product worthy of being protected, but rather they know others can use it, and in turn only think about money, rather than sharing the technology.

Back to my example of linux, MS Windows and MAC OSX are doing very well as well, even though they are not open source, yet they have good reasons. MS has also been very nice with releasing free programs and giving out some free code to help people along, rather than charges small fees for all those who want to look at it.

RE: Problem
By molgenit on 3/27/2008 7:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are spot on here. It’s very easy for a company that is going to make a product to search for any patents that they need to license. It is FAR more difficult for a patent holder to find out about who is using their patent without any licensing, especially if it is a process patent which this seems to be. While you may deduce that a product is using a specific part there could be several ways to make that part in higher yields or cheaper using different processes and this can be tricky to track down. Some companies believe because they license a patent from the creator they may be able to use another’s patentable modifications and should not have to license it also. Since there is a limited time table it may be worth the gamble to them, and when there is extreme competition cutting corners is very common.

RE: Problem
By OMGBS LIES on 3/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Problem
By ElFenix on 3/27/2008 1:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
strange that you'd try to keep something from seeing the light of day by disclosing it to the public.

RE: Problem
By kjboughton on 3/27/2008 2:13:06 AM , Rating: 3
I understand that a patent is put in to protect products so that people don't steal ideas, but there should really be a limit.

Patents only last 7 years, after which they cannot be renewed and the "invention" is open for use by all.

RE: Problem
By theapparition on 3/27/2008 11:28:59 AM , Rating: 2

In the United States patents are now granted for a term of 20 years from the date of application (14 years for design patents). Different rules apply for patents covered by applications filed before June 8, 1995. Patents may be extended only by a special act of Congress (except for certain pharmaceutical patents).

RE: Problem
By Ammohunt on 3/27/2008 12:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
I own the patent to the "Internet Tubes" way i see it you all owe me royalties! pay up now! or stop using it!

RE: Problem
By msheredy on 3/27/2008 1:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that but what about the fact of these "Patent holders" who do nothing to actually develop a product using that technology. I don't know if this individual has or hasn't but it there should be some sort of clause where patent holders must devote X amount of time to actually make a product. Other wise yes, products such as HD drives are hindered.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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