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GE, Ikea, Home Depot defeat University of California bid for light bulb import bans

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) - A group of companies including General Electric Co, Ikea Supply AG and Home Depot Inc on Tuesday defeated a request by the University of California for a U.S. appeals court to block imports of light bulbs that allegedly infringe its patents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. International Trade Commission's decision that the companies' light bulbs did not include a key element of the university's patented technology.

An attorney for GE and co-defendant Savant Technologies LLC said the companies were pleased with the decision. Home Depot declined to comment. Representatives for Ikea and the university did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The university lodged the ITC complaint in 2020. It also filed related patent infringement lawsuits in federal court in 2019 against the companies and others including Amazon, Walmart and Target.

Those cases have been paused for the ITC proceedings.

The school accused the companies of violating its patent rights in "filament" LED light bulbs, which use less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs.

The commission entered a final decision against the university last year. The Federal Circuit agreed Tuesday that the companies' light bulbs did not infringe because they lacked a "molding" around the LED described in the university's patents.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington)