Fri, Dec 31, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Sony seeks to oust LG phones from US

CIVIL SUIT:Sony has filed infringement complaints in the US over patents related to telephone number listings, direction keys on a portable phone and signal transmission

AFP and Bloomberg, SEOUL

Sony Corp, Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, filed patent-infringement claims seeking to block LG Electronics Inc from shipping mobile phones to the US.

Sony filed the complaints on Tuesday with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington and in a federal court in Los Angeles. The ITC, which is considering at least a dozen cases related to the expanding market for smartphones, has the power to block imports of products found to violate US patents. The federal court can impose financial penalties.

LG phones, including the Lotus Elite, Neon, Remarq, Rumor 2 and Xenon, are using Sony technology without permission, Tokyo-based Sony said in the civil lawsuit. LG, the world’s third-largest maker of mobile phones, is also being targeted in Sony’s patent suit for its Blu-ray disc players. A copy of the ITC complaint was not immediately available.

“Sony has been keen to protect its patents,” said Yuji Fujimori, a Tokyo-based analyst at Barclays Capital. “The US is an important market for Sony, as its mobile phone venture with Ericsson is trying to win a bigger share.”

The eight Sony patents in the federal court case include ones related to a way to display telephone number listings, direction keys on a portable phone and signal transmission.

John Taylor, a spokesman in the US for Seoul-based LG, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Sony plans to invest ¥100 billion (US$1.2 billion) over the next fiscal year to double production capacity for image sensors used in smartphones. A company spokesman this week said an Asahi Shimbun report that Sony may start selling a PSP handheld game machine equipped with a phone was “speculation.”

LG, which plans to begin sales in January of its first smartphone built with a dual-core processor, said on Monday it is trying to boost revenue at its consumer electronics, displays and handsets units by 13 percent next year.

The company lags behind Nokia Oyj and Samsung Electronics Co in sales of mobile phones, according to researcher Gartner Inc. Global sales of all models of mobile phones to end users rose 35 percent in the third quarter to 417 million units, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner said last month. There were 80.5 million smartphones sold.

LG Electronics said yesterday it would “actively respond” to the lawsuit.

“Based on results of our review, we will take action and actively respond” to Sony’s move, spokeswoman Na Joo-young said.

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