Litepanels could block the import of third party LED lighting for photo and video in the US

I received an email with information that Litepanels (see products) has won an investigation before the ITC and could now block the import of all LED and solid state lighting for photo and video purposes in the US because they have a patent on that technology. The general exclusion order they are seeking could allow Litepanels to make the decision without review or government oversight. They did not rule on the validity of the patents and now Litepanels can stop all imports until the patents can be fully challenged. I am not a legal expert, but you can get all the details from and make up your mind if you would support their clause:

Litepanels did not…

  1. Invent the use of LEDs for use in video, film or photography
  2. Invent the type of LEDs used in their product
  3. Invent PWM (pulse wave modulation) used to dim LEDs
  4. Invent the concept of mounting lights on cameras
  5. Invent the concept of mounting lights on stands
  6. Using LEDs as a continuous source of lighting
  7. Placing multiple LEDS on a rectangular printed circuit board

There are a number of products that demonstrated all of these claims years before Litepanels even filed for their first patent.  Furthermore patents are legally only given to those that create something new that someone skilled in the art would not think of. Clearly the claims above are obvious to just about anyone. Litepanels patents are a perfect example of a how dysfunctional the patent office has become.

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  • That is stupid. I hope they get found in contempt of court for bringing up such stupidity.

    • well just like with apple, i will simply ignore sue happy companies.

      • Troll Prozac

        They will sue you for ignoring them dude.

  • Troll Prozac

    Times like this I’m glad I don’t live in a litigation mad country like the USA.

    • z

      Welcome to the free country.

      • Troll Prozac

        I actually live in Hong Kong. So I can just go out and buy a Chinese copy. 😉

  • Steve

    Don’t worry. Apple will sue them at some point.

    • Sahaja

      Yeah they have LED lighting for the cameras on their phones.

      “block the import of all LED and solid state lighting for photo and video purposes” – why wouldn’t that cover phone cams?

      • Troll Prozac

        Easy solution: Label all lighting for “book reading” purposes.

        New from China: 1200LED “book reading” light.

  • Markdphotoguy

    Litepanels should be boycotted as well if they block the other companies. Once their claims are found IN COURT to be correct then only then should their products be purchased again. Forcing people to buy your product in this way is wrong. Go to court. Prove your case. Better yet make a better product that’s so good that can’t be undercut by cheaper designs in the first place.

    • J-Man

      “Better yet make a better product that’s so good that can’t be undercut by cheaper designs in the first place.”
      Build the best product, and sell it at a reasonable price, and you’ll get 90% of the market.

  • Ross

    That’s just sad & pathetic. This is a real “dog in the manger” act.

  • r2rho

    Why not just go here and let them know they suck?

  • stepper

    If they have a patent on the technology then I say good for them!
    How else do you suggest they defend themselves from Chinese knock offs and such?

    • fjfjjj

      How else? If their patent is bullshit, they will have to compete on price, quality, features, customer service, etc. Oh noes!

    • shadowfoto

      totally agree with fjfjjj. if something costs $5 to manufacture and you’re selling it for $100, then you must have something more than BS patent for trivial device. (you’ll get screwed anyway, just slightly later)

    • Faze

      Because who doesn’t like a monopoly?
      And a patent is a patent, someone else might as well have come up with said tech but were beat by these guys to the paperwork. There’s no “good for them” here, maybe a good for them if they actually work more on marketing their own products, making them better and selling them cheaper rather than ask big brother to deny competition. Knock offs and copies will be around, and not always to trick you, but to give you what’s good for what it’s really worth (sometimes~).

  • Siegfried

    Oh, well… I wish GM could study this case and block all import cars for US market in order to climb back from that financial hole it’s falling in.


  • george

    I have felt for a long time that “Lightpanel” products are absurdly priced. They may have a leg to stand on if they filed a “use” patent though.

    However, a company that just price gouges the customer because they can, is not worth doing business with

    Think about this, LED s cost pennies, boards and wires cost nickels and the box may cost about 2 dollars. even hand assembled in 10 minutes in america can’t cost much either.

    On the other hand how many of us have bought arca style plates at $40, I needed a lot of them. I had a union machine shop knock out about 20 for $120 total

    • Not Entirely True

      Only the most terrible of the terrible LED’s cost pennies each. Decent quality LED’s can cost anywhere from $2-3 each if you’re not too picky about color or up to $10 or more for better color balanced ones.

      * Note: I do not know what LED’s they use in their products but I would guess it’s in between the penny and $10 range.

  • This is getting crazy. Not just Apple-Samsung, and now this, but entire IP and patent system gone mad. 10 years ago, in US, never hear of such silliness. Next thing you know, companies sue government for use of tires, or people violate terms of use for wearing belt with pants.

  • MB

    Cute … they put their “invention” on Samsung camera 😉

  • Sue Me

    I just received one of their panels…
    Will buy something similar today, use this unit until the very last day and return it fir a refund! Just voting with my wallet, others should consider same.

  • I wouldn’t buy the product. It’s a horrible look. If I were to lower my standards, I wouldn’t buy their brand.

  • Use a flashlight

    Personally I use a $5 microphone holder that fits into the hotshoe and use that to clamp down on a high powered AA flashlight. Under $100 and potentially much more versatile.

    • Photo guy

      Use a flashlight …… The problem with the patents are that they are soooo broad if you attach a flashlight to a camera or stand and it uses LEDs you have violated the patents

  • James

    Shades of Blackrapid’s patent for their camera strap when there had already been a camera sling invented beforehand. Not to mention similar slings made for rifles decades if not a century before that.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    I actually hold the patent on all patents. Pay up!

  • Extensive prior art and no evidence of inventive step or non-obviousness. I’m pretty sure a competitor will request reexamination…

  • Steve G

    I have seen this same press release posted a few times. It seems a little questionable in my opinion. Litepanels has a response –

    • Thanks, I will post this online.

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