Published: July 27, 2020

Rapidly evolving research is proving that ultraviolet (UV) light can be used to kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces, in water, and even against aerosol droplets.  While surface transmission is not as significant as once feared, aerosol transmission is now understood to be a primary concern for interior spaces.  HVAC systems are now recognized as one of the biggest problems facing office buildings.  The use of UV light to attack bacteria and viruses is nothing new, though the technique has been hindered by the relatively expensive and challenging setups required.  Generally, the most effective UV light against viruses is UV-C light in the 260 — 285 nm range – typically provided by mercury vapor lamps.  Not long before COVID-19 hit, UV-C LEDs had been seeing academic advancements and starting to get serious commercial interest.  At this point in the pandemic, numerous funding sources have turned their attention to the researchers and startups working in this space.  The big players have long seen this as an opportunity and have turned their research budgets on the problem as well.  Picture the financial opportunity of building codes requiring a UV-C LED air handling system.

As with many of the technologies that have gained new or more prominent traction in the pandemic, UV LED disinfectant systems will run headlong into a crowded patent space – covering every aspect of manufacturing, design, and construction of the basic LED systems.  Beyond the existence of a thicket of LED patents, the owners of these patents have proven to be incredibly litigious over the last decade-plus.  WIT has been involved in most of the battles (in the ITC and District Courts), providing technical experts on every aspect of LED construction, use, and design.  WIT expects that any attempt to move into this market will be accompanied by swift and significant infringement allegations and aggressive litigation. 

For related information about patent litigation, check out WIT’s Intellectual Property practice area. Also, learn more about our COVID-19 Litigation Expert Team who have expertise in the industries being impacted by the pandemic.