Lutron has gained another victory defending its intellectual property in the increasingly competitive lighting control market. Leviton, of Little Neck, New York, agreed to pay a licensing fee to settle a lawsuit over Lutron’s wireless dimmer patent and trademark claims filed in with U.S. International Trade Commission and District Court of Texas.
According to documents from the ITC, this was the second time Leviton agreed to pay licensing fees after manufacturing products that violated Lutrons patents and trademarks. At least two other companies, Cooper Wiring Devices and Vantage Controls, have already settled with the Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, manufacturer over similar claims.
Still under review is a portion of the lawsuit involving Control4s LDZ-101 wireless dimmer design, which Lutron claims is in violation of its patent. Having reached a settlement with Leviton, Lutrons director of Lutron’s home systems business unit, Andy Wakefield, said his company can now turn its attention to the Control4 case.
“We’re extremely pleased with the results of this settlement, and this will allow us to focus on our ongoing litigation with Control4,” Wakefield said.
In response, Control4 issued this statement: Control4 has no comment on the Lutron-Leviton litigation, and cannot comment on ongoing litigation. Control4 respects the intellectual property rights of others.
In the most-recent Leviton case, Lutron defended five patents covering the specific design of its two-way radio frequency control technology and the ability of its wall-mount dimmers to provide status feedback.
According to the ITC claims, the infringing Leviton lighting controls are marketed under the brand names Vizia, Vizia-RF, Acenti, and IlluminEssence. The first three brands are distributed by Leviton in Leviton packaging. The fourth, IlluminEssence, is distributed by Monster Central Control Systems in Monster packaging that includes a notice that IlluminEssence products are made exclusively for Monster in Mexico by Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc.
When asked to comment on the case, Bob Becker, vice president and general manager of Leviton’s residential products business, said that his company had resolved its patent and trademark litigation under “mutually beneficial” terms with Lutron. He explained that while many details of the settlement remain confidential by agreement of the parties, Lutron had agreed to dismiss all of its claims, and Leviton has agreed to dismiss its counter claims.
We respect the intellectual property of our competitors and expect the same of them,” Becker said. “Infringement on some of the accused products is regretful, but was clearly inadvertent and not willful. This settlement will allow both companies to get back to business serving their respective customer bases and expanding the market for lighting controls.
Of the five patents listed in this most-recent case, none expires before 2012 and three do not expire until 2016.