Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Everlight rallies briefly on LED patent ruling

LIGHTS OUT:The Japan Patent Office ruled in favor of the Taiwanese LED chip-packaging firm, which has been locked in a six-year patent suit with rival Nichia

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Shares of LED chip packager Everlight Electronics Co (億光) received a boost yesterday following a preliminary favorable ruling on its patent dispute with Japan’s Nichia Corp, but the stock still ended the day lower amid worries that Europe’s escalating debt crisis could dampen the industry’s recovery.

Everlight surged 3 percent to a high of NT$51.40 shortly after the stock market opened. However, it closed the day down 1.8 percent at NT$49, underperforming the broader market, which dipped 0.75 percent, on concern over Greece’s potential exit from the eurozone and the economic knock-on effect this could cause.

Everlight said on Thursday it had made an important breakthrough in its six-year legal dispute with bigger rival Nichia.

The Shulin (樹林), New Taipei City (新北市)-based company said in a statement that the Japan Patent Office had ruled on May 8 that Nichia’s YAG white light LED patent was invalid.

Nichia can appeal the ruling, it said.

“Everlight believes that this decision is entirely reasonable,” the company said in the statement.

Everlight chairman Robert Yeh (葉寅夫) said the victory would clear the way for the company to make inroads into global markets, including Japan, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported yesterday.

Affected by increasing uncertainty about the global economy and lackluster industry prospects, most local LED stocks declined yesterday.

The share price of the nation’s top LED chipmaker, Epistar Corp (晶電), slipped 1.1 percent, while that of LED lighting maker Neo-Neon Holdings Ltd (真明麗控股) plummeted 5.62 percent.

NPD DisplaySearch forecast that supply and demand for LED would reach parity this year on the back of increasing demand for LED used in LCD backlights for low-cost LED TVs and mobile phones.

That would reverse a severe oversupply last year, when supply increased 40 percent annually, while demand grew only 10 percent because of weak TV demand, the market researcher said in a report released on Monday.

The penetration rate of LED lighting is expected to grow to 16.8 percent in 2015, from last year’s 1.9 percent, the researcher said.

Everlight also sells its own-brand LED lighting products. To cater to the demand for energy-saving lighting in Taiwan ahead of electricity price hikes, the company earlier this month cut prices for its branded LED bulbs sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide.

An 8-watt Everlight LED bulb is now priced at NT$299, sharply down from its previous price of NT$799.

This year, local LED lighting companies are expected to more than double their revenue to NT$9.6 billion (US$324 million), compared with NT$4.1 billion last year, the Photonics Industry and Technology Development Association (PIDA, 光電科技工業協進會) forecast.

Overall, local LED firms are expected to grow their revenue by 10 percent this year to NT$200 billion, PIDA projected.

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