In reference to the patent: US9243796

This appears to be the a very generic patent as it covers any flexible heatsink that may be made of numerous different materials. They are not specifying a design but more less a common everyday products used for a design. This is the same as patenting copper for heat dissipation. That is not patentable as it is an everyday item already used for this application, but copper wire bent in a certain formation with measurements for spacing, design and engineering is patentable. Same with this patent for the flexible heatsink. Utilizing a flexible metal fabric (aka: wire) placed in any formation to dissipate heat from an LED is saying that no wire, flexible metals, or a combination of either may be used. These are common items already in use therefore it should not have been approved. If they are specifying a specific design for the fabric or a configuration of the wires I would understand a patent for that, but to say that they came up with the idea of a flexible heatsink is preposterous. And since when is copper or aluminum being flexible now a patentable item? Are we in the 1800's? When utilized in the automobile industry, as referenced, the heatsinks are not in motion or "flexed" repeatedly, but merely are of a certain thin design than has some sort of maneuverability that may or may not be utilized, depending on the installer and the vehicle make/model. See the below image of my LED headlight. enter image description here My question is... Should I continue with my production or halt until further review?

1 Answer 1


The claims of a patent determine how broad it is. The important thing to remember with claims is you have to implement each and every element of the claim to infringe on it. If you can avoid even one element (in an apparatus claim) or one step(in a method claim), you avoid infringement. Looking at the first claim we see the following.

  1. An LED lamp with a heat sink, the lamp comprising:

    a wire harness adapted for connection to an electrical system;

    a first circuit board electrically connected to the wire harness;

    a second circuit board electrically connected to the wire harness;

    a heat conducting member, wherein the circuit boards are mounted on opposite sides of the heat conducting member;

    a first light emitting diode on the first circuit board;

    a second light emitting diode on the second circuit board;

    a flexible heat sink mechanically connected to the heat conducting member;

    and wherein the flexible heat sink comprises a flexible metal fabric.

This claim is actually pretty narrow requiring two circuit boards, at least one LED per board, the two boards sandwiched above and below a heat sink, a wire harness, the flexible heat sink, etc. The other independent claim is as follows.

  1. A method of installing an LED lamp into a light fixture comprising:

    providing an LED lamp that has a light emitting diode on a circuit board, a heat conducting member supporting the circuit board, a flexible heat sink made from a flexible metal fabric attached to the heat conducting member, and a mounting body enclosing the circuit board and heat conducting member;

    shaping the flexible heat sink into a desired shape to fit in a space behind the light fixture;

    and installing the mounting body in the light fixture with the light emitting diode on a front side of the fixture and the flexible heat sink in the space behind the light fixture.

In general, shorter claims are harder to circumvent. You need to assess whether you are implementing each and every element of this claim. For instance is your design shaping the flexible heat sink into a desired shape to fit in the space behind the light fixture?

I'm not passing judgement on the validity of the patent, but it is granted so unless you are willing to try to get it invalidated you have to live with it. I don't think it is anywhere near as broad as your question implies.

My question is... Should I continue with my production or halt until further review?

This is a good question, but not one you should rely on opinions on the internet to answer. Every product needs to be concerned with existing patents. You've identified one, but there could be other relevant patents. Getting a freedom-to-operate opinion from a qualified patent attorney is important.

  • An agent, professional searcher, or anyone could do a freedom-to-operate search but only an attorney can provide an opinion. It doesn't even need to be an actual patent attorney (someone who passed the USPTO bar exam), just an attorney licensed in the state they are practicing in. The opinion is an opinion on what might happen if you got sued for patent infringement.
    – George White
    Dec 6, 2017 at 21:47
  • If an issue relates to the USPTO, you need someone who passed the patent bar, whether or not an attorney. If the issue relates to court, you need a state licensed attorney, whether or not they even would be qualified to take the patent bar. As a patent agent I'm sensitive to what I can and can't do.
    – George White
    Dec 6, 2017 at 21:47
  • @GeorgeWhite Thanks for the edits and clarification. I try to be sensitive to what I say since I'm neither a patent attorney nor an agent. I do, however, greatly value them.
    – Eric S
    Dec 6, 2017 at 22:01
  • On behalf of the posters, I thank you for often telling them they are crazy to write their own claims.
    – George White
    Dec 6, 2017 at 22:06
  • @GeorgeWhite The fact that I'm not an attorney or agent perhaps lends an aura of objectivity.
    – Eric S
    Dec 6, 2017 at 22:24

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