Philips accused of ‘bullying’ companies over patents

A lighting supplier in France has accused Philips of ‘bullying’ his company for allegedly infringing its patents, and has called on other companies to join him in 'standing up' to Philips.

In an email sent to many in the industry, Dan Vesty of Danlite said: ‘Big Brother Philips are claiming a stake on my living… Did they patent candlelight or even sunlight too?’

‘I’m just a small guy, trying to make a decent living for my family, but I refuse to be bullied.’

He suggested other companies should come together to protest against their treatment by the giants of the industry, using the upcoming Light + Building show in Frankfurt to make their voices heard. ‘It may be a David and Goliath battle, but several Davids would help,’ Vesty wrote.

It’s not the first time Philips has been criticised for how it handles intellectual property, but it is unusual for another lighting manufacturer to come out so strongly in public against the company’s behaviour.

Björn Teuwsen, director of communications at Philips Intellectual Property & Standards, said: ‘We regret this feeling and observation, since Philips always approaches companies in a friendly manner and tries to discuss and determine in a cooperative way  to what extent our patents are applicable to the products sold by that company.

‘Our licensing program covers approximately 220 inventions resulting in over 1,400 patents and patent applications worldwide, recognised by over 380 licensed companies to date. We never claim that all LED products require a license and therefore we always want to interact and reach consensus with the company, since royalties only apply on products made or sold in a country where Philips has a patent granted covering a feature of that product.

‘Through the program, Philips is helping to promote an environment that is open and shared. Over the years, Philips has built a reputation of not only developing and selling technology, but also sharing its IP with other industry players.

‘Finally, we strongly encourage companies to jointly meet with us, hear their possible concerns and clarify and explain our licensing program to them.’