LEDs-12A recent decision from Judge Stearns sheds new light on a dispute between Lexington Luminance (“Lexington”) and Google over LED technology.

The dispute began in November, 2012, when Lexington accused Google of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851 (the “’851 Patent”), entitled “Semiconductor Light-Emitting Device and Method for Manufacturing Same.” In particular, Lexington accused the LEDs in two Google Nexus phone models of infringement. The parties jointly stayed the case in 2014 pending the outcome of a Federal Circuit decision involving the ’851 Patent.  In 2015, after receiving the decision, the case was reopened. Shortly thereafter, Lexington served amended infringement contentions, and the Court issued its claim construction order. With these in hand, Google moved for summary judgment of noninfringement.

For purposes of the motion, Google only challenged infringement with respect to one claim limitation in the patent:  “a sloped etching profile with a smooth rotation of microfacets.”  Relying on the Court’s construction of the phrase, Google argued that Lexington put forth no evidence of infringement for this particular limitation.  The Court construed the term “microfacet” as “very small planes that make up a surface contour,” and the phrase to mean that “when viewed in outline from the side, the trenches have etched sloped sides made up of a rotation of microfacets that approximate a smooth curve.”

Ultimately, the parties’ dispute hinged on whether Google’s LEDs have “variable, jagged surface roughness without . . . flat lines” – as Google argued – or whether they are “crystalline in nature” and thus “necessarily exhibit[] surface microfacets” – as Lexington argued.  To the Court, the parties’ “clashing interpretation” was enough to deny Google’s motion for summary judgment, as it “raise[d] a question of fact to be resolved by the jury.”

The case is Lexington Luminance LLC v. Google, Inc., No. 1-12-cv-12218, pending in the District of Massachusetts. A copy of the opinion can be found here.