Wed, Aug 25, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Chimei files patent suit against Sony

ROUND TWOThe government, meanwhile, is to write a letter on behalf of AUO executives barred from leaving the US, citing possible disruption of panel supply

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子), the nation’s biggest LCD panel maker, yesterday said it has filed patent lawsuits against Sony Corp in the US and China, requesting the courts to bar the Japanese electronics giant from exporting electronics like LCD TVs to the US, saying they are outfitted with slim screens made in unauthorized patents.

This was the second round of patent infringement charges brought by Chimei against Sony within two months, showing that Taiwanese companies are emerging as major flat-panel patent ­holders after increasing investment in research and development in recent years.

WIDE-RANGING SUIT

The Miaoli-based panel maker said it had filed a patent infringement lawsuit with the US Trade Commission and Delaware Federal District Court to halt imports and sales of Sony’s infringing product lines, ranging from LCD TVs to PlayStation 3 game consoles and notebook computers.

Chimei also demanded unspecified damages from Sony, the company said.

“We have a policy of respecting intellectual property, so when third parties infringe on our intellectual property rights, we will take forceful action to protect our rights,” Peterson Tien (田正人), general counsel and vice president of Chimei, said in a company statement released yesterday.

In China, Chimei took similar legal action against Sony. The firm filed patent infringement complaints to district courts in four cities — Beijing, Chengdu, Xian and Ningbo.

Chimei said Sony had illegally used the patents again, in addition to those patents infringed on in the lawsuits brought by the firm early last month in the US.

Chimei’s global patent portfolio covers key aspects of today’s consumer electronics, and extends to many of its key components from flat panels, Tien said.

BARRED FROM LEAVING

In related news, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will issue a second letter of guarantee to a US court in an attempt to persuade it to allow three present and former executives from flat-panel maker AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) to leave the US, a senior MOEA official said on Monday.

The three AUO executives — chief executive officer Chen Lai-juh (陳來助), vice chairman Chen Hsuan-bin (陳炫彬) and former executive vice president Hui Hsiung (熊暉) — were barred from traveling outside the continent by the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Aug. 19.

Woody Duh (杜紫軍), the ­director-general of the MOEA’s Industrial Development Bureau, said he would write the letter on behalf of the government guaranteeing that the executives would appear at future court hearings.

Duh said he would argue that because AUO is a listed company, if the executives are not allowed to return to Taiwan, market order could be affected.

The letter would also contend that any disruption to AUO’s operations resulting from the court order is likely to impact global flat panel supply because the company is one of the world’s largest flat panel producers, he said.

Duh said the first letter of guarantee the three AUO executives brought to the court was issued by the government two weeks ago, but a change in the judge hearing the case and a prosecutor’s appeal led to the court order barring the three from leaving the US.

The court acted at the request of prosecutors, who said the three men were flight risks because they live and work in Taiwan, which has no extradition agreement with the US.

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