July 30 (Reuters) - Five major retailers, including Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc, were targeted in lawsuits filed on Tuesday by the University of California over what it called the "existential threat" posed by foreign manufacturers that infringe schools' patents.
Amazon.com, Walmart, Target Inc, Ikea AB and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc were accused of infringing four of the university's patents related to "filament" LED light bulbs, which use less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs.
The university also asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to open a probe into the retailers' conduct related to the importing of light bulbs.
Tuesday's lawsuits are intended "to spearhead a broader, national response to the existential threat to university technology transfer" posed by the "widespread disregard" for universities' patent rights, the complaints said.
The lawsuits filed in with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seek unspecified damages, including royalties.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum