Pioneer Sues Samsung Over Patents

Pioneer has sued Samsung in the United States over alleged patent infringement involving plasma displays used primarily in television sets. The two companies were in licensing talks that apparently fell through, prompting Pioneer to file a lawsuit.

Japan-based Pioneer says it holds a patent regarding an electrode configuration that improves plasma display quality, as well as a patent covering a manufacturing step that increases the brightness of a display. South Korea-based Samsung SDI is violating both of those parents, Pioneer says.

In the suit file in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Pioneer is seeking a court order halting sales of Samsung SDI plasma displays in addition to compensation for past infringement. The move is Pioneer's first allegation of patent infringement

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Samsung SDI is the world's largest producer of plasma displays, but says the case will have no impact on its bottom line.

"Pioneer has been negotiating in good faith with SDI for a license to Pioneer's PDP patent portfolio since April of 2005," the company said in a statement. "Pioneer, however, determined that litigation was necessary in order to protect the value of its intellectual property in the PDP product field."

Samsung disagrees with that assessment, and plans to file a counter-suit against Pioneer. Samsung SDI is also currently in patent disputes with Fujitsu and Panasonic parent Matsushita. Analysts say the legal wrangling largely stems from Japanese companies wanting to defend their territory from Asian newcomers such as Samsung.

Japanese electronics makers have previously sued their rivals in Asia over both DRAM memory and LCD display technology. LG and Matsushita settled a similar plasma patent fight in April 2005 by signing a cross-licensing agreement.

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