Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Sharp and Aeon kiss and make up

AFP , TOKYO

Sharp Corp and its longtime retail partner Aeon Co agreed yesterday to resume relations after a brief, acrimonious split over Sharp's patent complaint against a Taiwan flat TV maker.

In a joint statement issued late yesterday, the companies apologized to each other one day after Aeon, Japan's largest retailer, blasted Sharp for suggesting the retailer knowingly sold Taiwan TVs that allegedly infringed Sharp's patented technology.

"Sharp apologizes for its inadequate explanation and lack of consideration for Aeon and its customers," the statement said.

"Aeon apologizes to its customers and Sharp for causing concern by halting business ties and will reopen business with Sharp," it said.

The statement revoked Thursday's decision by Aeon, operator of the Jusco supermarket chain, to halt sales of all Sharp goods sold at some 330 stores nationwide with a wholesale value of about ?7 billion (US$63.6 million) annually.

It also restored ties dating back nearly 30 years with Sharp, whose share price fell ?35, or 1.98 percent, to ?1,735 yesterday. Aeon eased ?30, or 0.66 percent, to 4,530.

Sharp filed for an import ban with the Tokyo District Court on Monday against Teco Electric and Machinery Co (東元電機), which uses liquid crystal display panels made by AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), alleging the companies used Sharp technology without permission.

The injunction request was sealed and not available to the public, a court official said.

The move surprised Aeon, which had been awaiting a written explanation from Sharp over its concerns only to find details leaked in the press implying that Aeon was acting wrongfully, an Aeon spokesman said.

Sharp's managing director, Masaaki Otsuka, visited Aeon early yesterday to apologize for the misunderstanding, a Sharp spokesman said.

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