The South Korean Supreme Court has nullified a 1995 patent application for a plasma display panel (PDP) by Japanese company Fujitsu, in a ruling which sided with the claims by four local electronics companies -- Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Orion Electronic, and Hyundai Electronics.
The court ruled that Fujitsu's technology, designed to operate core circuits of plasma displays, could be easily invented using common information and, thus, the technology is ineligible for patent registration.
The legal battle began in 1999 with those four companies filing a lawsuit against Fujitsu after they failed to win a complaint filed with the Korean Industrial Property Tribunal to nullify the patent application.
"Despite the victory, the ruling will have little impact on the industry as the technology has become outdated and is not used any more," Samsung SDI spokesman Park Kyoung-min said.
The ruling, however, was made at a sensitive time when patent disputes between Japanese and Korean technology companies are intensifying in a bid to protect their interests in the fast-growing digital electronics field, particularly in the PDP technology, which is used in flat-screen televisions.
Last February, Samsung SDI and Fujitsu clashed again in court as Samsung filed a lawsuit in the U.S. seeking the nullification of Fujitsu's patents on technologies for giving PDPs a longer life.
As a countermeasure, Fujitsu filed lawsuits in Japan and the U.S. last April, seeking an injunction against the import and sale of Samsung-made PDPs. It also asked the Tokyo Customs Service to suspend imports of Korean products. (Korean Times)
The latest row in the PDP patent war also took place between LG Electronics and Japan's Matsushita.
LG Electronics requested in November that the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) ban imports of PDP television sets made by Matsushita. It also referred Matsushita's Korean unit to the Seoul Central District Court for alleged patent infringement shortly after Matsushita filed a court injunction to halt sales of PDPs made by LG Electronics in Japan.
The Tokyo Customs Service also separately accepted Matsushita's request to halt imports of LG PDPs.
On November 29, the MOCIE accepted LG's request to temporarily halt imports and sales of Matsushita plasma display panels to investigate the patent infringement case. (Korean Times)
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