Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

LED lights are one of my favourite accessories especially “V” lock battery plate versions, as an early adopter of Red Head lights I hated many things about RedHeads.

The heat build up in a room was often intolerable, the 650W halogen bulbs were dear and exploded like a volcano when you least expected them to. You often found yourself sticking a blue gel in front of the RedHead to give you a daylight balance and losing about 2.5 stops of light in the process.

LED lights are a joy to use, no heat, daylight balanced and run off 12v “V” lock batteries…no cables to worry about…so you can see my dilemma when Lite Pannels want to put an end to all LED lighting except their own expensive lights.

Lite Pannels, one of the most respected LED panel companies in the US is about to disgruntle the USA film maker population, fortunately this kind of law suit could not happen in the UK.

The argument:

Lite Pannels are insisting that they have the sole patent on LED lighting for video and photography.

Excerpt from a patent:

“While preferred embodiments of the invention have been described herein, many variations are possible which remain within the concept and scope of the invention. Such variations would become clear to one of ordinary skill in the art after inspection of the specification and the drawings. The invention therefore is not to be restricted except within the spirit and scope of any appended claims.”

“It’s important to realise the consequences of this action, if Lite Pannels wins this court case you will be restricted to buying one make of LED light in the USA.”

Preliminary Recommendation :

Administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex on Friday issued an initial determination finding in favor of Litepanels and is recommending a general exclusion order barring the importation of all devices that infringe three patents owned by a top American manufacturer of LED photographic lighting devices, Litepanels, Inc. and Litepanels, Ltd. This sweeping decision is unusual because the general exclusion order prevents the importation of all devices that infringe the patents rather than just devices manufactured by the named parties.

Lite Pannels are used in a lot of major studio setups like MTV3 and CNBC London, they not only reduce the electric bill but being heat free cuts down on need for major expensive air-con units.

On the whole Lite Pannels are getting a wee bit miffed with cheap Chinese imports. The Chinese are used by many major companies to make their electronic equipment on the cheap then sell them on at over inflated prices, the down side to all this cheap labour is you get to see what goes into making your precious piece of electronic equipment and surprise, surprise it’s copied !Sadly for Lite Pannels films were being made with early LED prototypes before Lite Pannels came into existence and competition is good for business.

Lite Pannels are alienating the very customers they hope to capture with this law suit and to be quite honest a Bi-colour LED Lite pannel from CVP is £2154 or cheaper alternative from H Preston Media for about £500. (Note. CVP also do cheaper alternatives).

The other problem with LED lights is branding, many companies get LEDs from China pre branded, one of the better lights is the Calumet CF9030 priced at £399, I bought 2 of these lights and they are my workhorses.

My good friend Alister Chapman is also up in arms… “Litepanels didn’t invent the LED, they didn’t invent the video light and I don’t think they can legitimately claim that they alone came up with the idea of using LED’s to light a scene for photo or video. This is the US patent office at it’s worst. I didn’t think you could patent a concept. You can patent a specific design or an invention but surely not a the vague concept of putting LED’s in a frame for use in photography.  The Litepanels patents make amusing reading as they include lots of “maybe” or “might” statements and are as vague as you can get. If this ban goes ahead then Litepanels will effectively have a monopoly on the sale LED video lights in the USA. This will prevent competition which in turn reduces innovation and new product development.”

Lite Pannels are very well made “all American” LED lights but at just over £2000 for a Bi-colour that you can source for four times cheaper which light would you choose given a budget of £1,000. There is a faction petitioning not to buy from VITEC, personally that is just stupid.

If sanity rules the day, this law suit will be thrown out of court and Lite Pannels need to go back to the drawing board and bring out competitive LED lighting…simple or Lite Pannels will find a major backlash from the customers they hope to sell to if they win this test case, why they never thought of this before waisting big bucks on lawyer fees beats me.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

2 thoughts on “Soon you may only have one choice of LED light in the USA !!!

  1. After working with any kind of halogen and HMI lights for nearly three decades I started a soft change towards LEDs already years ago. In the beginning Litepanels were more or less the only LEDs fulfilling my requirements concerning mechanical stability and quality in general for daily broadcast work. However, I agree: Litepanels are too expensive and it’s ridiculous if they try to protect their price policy by nonsense patents. I’m always willing to test other brands. Fact is: there is a lot of too cheap stuff around too. And as I’m used to work with V-mount batteries this is what I’m looking for. Don’t want to carry around different types of power sources for each individual light…

  2. Please note that I am thinking of patenting the following:

    • Pixels juxtapositioned to form a SCREEN

    • Grains of sand collected in such a way as to form a BEACH

    • Eggs mixed together to form an OMELETTE

    If successful, you will all have to pay me to work, relax and eat.

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