Samsung SDI sues Panasonic over PDP patents

South Korea's Samsung SDI has sued Japan's Panasonic over PDP technology, the company said Wednesday.

South Korea's Samsung SDI has sued Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) over PDP (plasma display panel) technology, Samsung SDI said Wednesday.

Samsung SDI, one of the world's largest makers of flat-panel displays, filed a lawsuit against Panasonic in the U.S. Federal Court in Los Angeles on Monday, said Bryan Sohn, a spokesman for the company in Seoul. The lawsuit alleges infringement by Panasonic of nine of Samsung SDI's patents relating to PDPs and the chips used to control the panels, he said.

The two companies have held talks regarding Samsung SDI's claims for the past year but have failed to reach an agreement, Sohn said.

Panasonic declined to comment on the matter because it has yet to officially receive a copy of the complaint, said Akira Kadota, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the Osaka company. He confirmed the two companies have been in talks.

The lawsuit comes as the market-share gap between Panasonic and Samsung SDI is narrowing.

In the third quarter of this year, Samsung SDI was the top-ranked producer of PDP modules with a 29.5 percent share and Panasonic was ranked second with 27 percent, according to DisplaySearch. Panasonic achieved 49 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in the third quarter and is poised to overtake Samsung SDI to lead the market in the fourth quarter, DisplaySearch said.

Panasonic's rapid rise is due to the start of manufacturing operations at its new PDP factory in west Japan. Production began in September, two months ahead of schedule, and has already hit maximum capacity of 125,000 panels per month, Panasonic said last week. The company has moved up the start of second-phase production at the factory by four months to July next year. It is the world's largest PDP plant, according to Panasonic.

When the second-phase production begins, the factory will be capable of producing 250,000 panels per month. Panasonic's total PDP output will then be a maximum of 425,000 panels per month.

Earlier this year, Panasonic settled a patent-infringement argument with LG Electronics Inc. In that instance, Panasonic alleged that certain LG panels infringed on its patents and, after talks broke down, tried to block imports of the panels into Japan. LG responded with a similar tactic in South Korea but the two companies ended their dispute with a patent cross-licensing deal in April.

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Martyn Williams

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