Amazon, Walmart, Ikea targeted in University of California light bulb lawsuits - who else may be in line?
According to Reuters, Amazon, Ikea and Walmart have all been targeted for patent infringement lawsuits by the University of California. The University is claiming that these companies, by stocking ‘filament’ LED light bulbs, are infringing four patents filed by the university in relation to these light bulbs.
Who else might be infringing?
This is a complex case whose merits are best left to others to judge, but this did cause me to wonder - If I was in the technology transfer office of the University of California, who else would I look at as prospective licensees?
More specifically, what could an Ambercite licensing search tell me? Luckily, this is a very simple analysis.
I looked up the case in question, and found the four patents. The licensing potential search looked like this:
We used May 2004 as a filter date as the earliest of these four patents was filed in June 2004. This search returned 1000 results with a range of similarity scores - from experience, we filtered the results so that only patents with a minimum similarity score of 2 were retained.
Ambercite uses an AI search engine based on a database of 170 million patent citations to suggest similar patents to one or more starting patents, regardless of keywords or class codes.
A sample of the results is shown below. Note that the column Licensing Potential - this is our prediction metric suggesting that relative likelihood that they may be commercial overlap between this found patent, and the four query patents.
After applying the similarity score filter, we ended up with 537 patents. We exported this list as an Excel download, and then used a pivot table in Excel to add up the value of Licensing Potential for each applicant. The top 10 patent owners are listed below (after removing the University of California, an individual patent owner and a client of Ambercite from this list):
How might a university licensing office apply this information?
None of this analysis is proof that any of the above listed companies are infringing the University of California patents. But these companies are filing patents with similar subject matter - and so would be well worth investigating.
I should note too that this full list of applicants contains 112 different names, including a number of well known companies residing all around the world.
And if nothing else, this list shows just success this particular innovation has been - which the university can take great pride from (along with any duly owed licensing fees).