Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Amtran affiliate accuses Funai of unfair competition

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese flat-panel TV maker Amtran Technology Co Ltd (瑞軒) said yesterday its affiliate, Vizio Inc, had filed an anti-trust and unfair competition lawsuit against its Japanese rival, Funai Electronics Co, in the US.

The latest legal action by Vizio followed a ruling by the US International Trade Commission’s that invalidated a related patent that Funai had attempted to enforce against Vizio and to review a judge’s prior decision that Vizio had infringed on part of US Patent No. 6,115,074.

Irvine, California-based Vizio alleged that Funai, “acting alone and in concert with others, unlawfully restrained trade and monopolized the market for the licensing of technology used to interpret and retrieve information from a digital television broadcast signal, as well as the market for digital television sets and receivers,” Amtran said, citing Vizio.

Amtran has a 23 percent stake in Vizio and makes flat-screen TVs for the US’s third-largest liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel TV maker.

“The company will safeguard the company’s legal rights and seek any possible means to protect the company’s interest,” Amtran said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

Vizio expanded its share of the US LCD market by volume to 12.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, up from the third quarter’s 8.4 percent, behind Sony Corp and top-brand Samsung Electronics Co, market researcher DisplaySearch’s latest tallies showed.

Vizio filed the antitrust and unfair competition lawsuit in the US District Court, Central District of California, against Funai and related components, a company statement released earlier this month on its Web site said.

“VIZIO, as America’s HDTV Company, has been instrumental in making high quality flat panel TVs more affordable for Americans. Especially in light of the nation’s digital TV transition, we won’t allow a foreign competitor to divert us from our mission to bring affordable high quality HDTVs to millions of Americans,” Vizio co-founder Laynie Newsome said in a statement.

Amtran jumped 3.2 percent to NT$11.25 yesterday, outperforming the TAIEX’s 0.9 percent rise.

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