For the second time in a week, LED lighting company Cree has sued a small competitor for patent infringement.
Durham-based Cree filed a lawsuit Friday in federal district court against MaxBrite LED Lightning Techology, a 10-year-old company based in San Jose, Calif., that sells indoor and outdoor LED lighting products.
The lawsuit contends that in April a counsel for Cree sent MaxBrite a letter putting the company on notice that its products and advertising infringed on certain Cree design patents and its trademark, and that MaxBrite failed to take appropriate action to remedy the situation.
Cree followed up on May 26 by purchasing from MaxBrite’s website an LED gas station light for nearly $300, which it then determined infringed on Cree design patents.
In addition, on two dates in July and August, Cree purchased a parking lot lighting fixture – for $526 and $432, respectively – that MaxBrite advertised on its website contained a “Cree LED light source.” But Cree’s inspection of the products determined that the “light source” on the products wasn’t made by Cree.
In addition to patent infringement, Cree’s lawsuit contends that MaxBrite also infringed on the Cree trademark.
John Lee, the owner of MaxBrite, declined to comment on the lawsuit until he consults with an attorney. A spokeswoman for Cree said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The Cree lawsuit seeks actual damages, punitive damages and a court order barring MaxBrite from further unlawful conduct with regard to Cree’s patents and trademark.
The lawsuit also contends that MaxBrite is “undercapitalized” and “does not have sufficient funding to assume responsibility for its foreseeable and actual liabilities.”
A week earlier, Cree sued a New York company, E. Mishan & Sons, contending that its flashlights infringe on a half-dozen Cree patents.
In addition, earlier this month Cree was on the other end of a patent infringement suit. OptoLum, a small LED lighting systems company based in Arizona, contends that Cree copied the technology that went into its groundbreaking LED light bulb that was launched in 2013.