Taiwanese DVD chip manufacturer MediaTek Inc has sued Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, the world's biggest consumer electronics maker, over technology that permits compact-disc players to continue to operate when jostled or shaken.
MediaTek said in a complaint that Matsushita, best known for its Panasonic brand, violates a US patent for a compact-disc player with vibration-immune interrupted playback capability.
The complaint, filed on May 24 in the federal court in San Francisco, also asked for a judgment that MediaTek doesn't violate three Matsushita patents that are part of a separate suit filed two years ago.
More than 100 Panasonic and Technics products, such as portable stereo "boomboxes," CD clock radios and home video systems capable of playing CDs use the innovation without permission, Hsinchu-based MediaTek said in court papers.
"As a direct result of Matsushita's and Panasonic's infringement" of the "patent MediaTek has suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm," MediaTek said in the suit.
MediaTek is seeking cash compensation and a court order blocking Matsushita from using the invention.
In August 2005, Osaka-based Matsushita sued in the same court, claiming MediaTek integrated circuit chips infringe three patents. That suit is still pending, court records show. Matsushita said at the time that it filed the suit after negotiations with MediaTek failed.
"Matsushita Electric is aware of the filing," spokesman Jim Reilly said in an e-mail. "We have not had time to review the court documents yet, so we are not able to comment."
Meanwhile, 3M Co, maker of 50,000 products from Post-it Notes to electronic road signs, said it settled patent-infringement claims against Matsushita over lithium-ion batteries used in computers and other devices.
Financial terms were not disclosed. Matsushita and its Panasonic unit will license the patents, 3M said. The settlement covers both a suit filed in Minneapolis and a complaint before the US International Trade Commission in Washington, said 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon.
3M filed the suit and US trade complaint in March against Matsushita, Panasonic and other electronics companies including Sony Corp and Sanyo Electric Co, the world's biggest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries. The settlement announced yesterday effects only Matsushita and Panasonic, Runyon said.
"Matsushita and Panasonic Corp of North America are now licensed sources" of the batteries, 3M said in the statement.
3M, based in St Paul, Minnesota, said it spent a decade developing a technology that makes the batteries last longer and makes them less likely to overheat.
The batteries are rechargeable because of the movement of lithium ions out of the cathode, or positive electrode, and into the anode, or negative electrode, according to 3M's suit. The 3M patents relate to cathode materials.
Matsushita's Reilly said "the terms of the agreement are confidential so we can't divulge the details."
The trade commission complaint targeted the "Revolithium" batteries used in Panasonic cordless power tools.