In a patent infringement lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Tailored Lighting, Inc. is suing Osram Sylvania Products, Inc. over the manufacture and sale of its Silverstar and Cool Blue automotive headlamps.
The suit claims Sylvania’s headlamps that emit a “daylight” beam infringe on Tailored Lighting’s U.S. patent number 5,666,017, which is directed to lamps that produce light substantially equivalent to daylight in colour, temperature and balance.
Tailored Lighting (TLI) president Kevin McGuire was issued the ‘017 “Daylight Lamp” patent on September 9, 1997 and transferred ownership to TLI. The suit claims that Sylvania has acknowledged the existence of TLI’s ‘017 patent but continues to manufacture, sell and distribute the SilverStar and Cool Blue products. TLI’s lighting technology is covered by a number of U.S. and international patents including Germany where Sylvania’s parent company, Osram, is headquartered. Sylvania’s products are sold under the SilverStar and Cool Blue trademarks and are currently being offered in over 13,000 retail outlets in the U.S. With over 225 million registered vehicles in the US, a potential 7 billion dollar U.S. aftermarket exists for these lights.
There was no immediate response from Osram Sylvania.
The suit alleges that both the SilverStar and Cool Blue products have “a light-producing element substantially centrally disposed within a lamp envelope” and when energized causes light to be emitted from the product “substantially in the manner as claimed in the TLI ‘017 patent.” Further, the suit claims the SilverStar and Cool Blue products infringe one or more claims of the ‘017 patent by having at least one coating on their surfaces and light transmittance levels in “substantial accordance with the invention claimed in the ‘017 patent”.
McGuire says that Sylvania is to be congratulated for recognizing the value of true daylight for human physiology and color perception and producing a very good product, but he had expected that Sylvania also would recognize innovative contributions by others. TLI’s attempts to reach an amicable resolution to date have not been successful. Sylvania instead has filed with the court a claim that its SilverStar and Cool Blue headlamps with horizontally disposed filaments are not centrally disposed within their lamp envelopes. TLI naturally contests this position, which is negated even by Sylvania’s own prior patent literature describing a horizontal filament as centrally disposed. McGuire says actions like these by a large company like Sylvania present big problems to small companies like TLI, Inc. whose annual sales are under $1 million and who employs only a half dozen workers. “Despite working for four years to perfect our product and offer it to t! he American consumer, we now need to protect our patent against infringing products like the SilverStar and Cool Blue offered for sale by a company with comparatively unlimited resources.”
TLI is asking for treble damages and trebling lost profits and royalties, a permanent injunction prohibiting Sylvania from continuing to sell the infringing products.