Thu, Jan 10, 2013 - Page 13 News List

TPK files lawsuits after alleged abuse of patents

HISTORIC MOMENT:For the first time in its history the firm filed lawsuits, and sought sales bans saying it had to protect itself and the wider panel industry

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Touch-panel maker TPK Holdings Inc (宸鴻) yesterday said it has filed two patent lawsuits in China against five companies, including handset maker Nokia Oyj and its manufacturing partners, and the touch-screen supplier for Huawei Technologies Co (華為).

TPK also sought to ban the sales of handsets and sought damages of 26.91 million yuan (US$4.32 million) each from Nokia and its partners, and 66 million yuan each from Huawei’s partners, the company said in a teleconference after filing the complaints with a court in Xiamen on Tuesday.

This marked the first patent lawsuit in the company’s 10-year history. TPK said Nokia’s smartphone, code-named the Nokia 610, contains some parts — primarily its touch screen — that illegally incorporate TPK’s patents to make thinner and lighter touch screens.

The one-glass-solution technology is also used in making touch panels for tablets and all-in-one computers, the company said.

The lawsuit against Nokia was extended to the Finnish phone brand’s Taiwanese manufacturer, Compal Communications Inc (華寶通訊), and China’s electronics retail chain Suning Appliance Co (蘇寧電器), which sells the phone in Xiamen, TPK said.

In the second complaint, TPK said that one of Huawei’s smartphones, the C8812E, also contains a screen that illegally incorporates TPK’s patents. Therefore Huawei’s Chinese touch-panel supplier, O-film Tech Co Ltd (歐菲光科技), based in Shenzhen, is being sued along with Xiamen Zhongbo Trade Co (廈門市中博貿易), which sells Huawei’s phone.

“The lawsuits aim to create a stable and fair environment for our customers and for the whole touch-panel industry ... in order to have a reasonable return [on research and development],” an official from TPK’s legal department said during the teleconference yesterday.

In general, initial rulings on such patent infringement lawsuits usually come within 10 months to 15 months, the official said.

“We will not rule out the possibility of resolving the patent disputes by signing cross-licensing agreements with those companies, or by charging royalties,” he said.

TPK may file similar lawsuits against Nokia other than China if the company collects sufficient proof, he said.

TPK owns about 400 patents and has 1,000 new patents under review, the company said. The firm has invested more than NT$10 billion in developing new technologies over the past three years.

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