Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Unity Opto cleared for shipments of chips to Japan

LEGAL VICTORY:The Tokyo District Court ruled that Tsann Kuen’s sales of LED lighting carrying Unity Opto chips did not infringe on Nichia’s patents

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

LED chipmaker Unity Opto Technology Co (東貝光電) yesterday said that barriers to shipments of its chips to Japan have been cleared after a Tokyo court dismissed a patent lawsuit brought by Nichia Corp against its retail partner.

Unity Opto yesterday said the Tokyo District Court on Monday rejected the Japanese LED product maker’s patent infringement claims against Tsann Kuen’s (燦坤) Japanese unit, which sells LED lighting containing chips made by Unity Opto.

The ruling restores product distribution rights for Unity Opto chips and the sale of products containing such chips in Japanese retail stores. Tsann Kuen is Unity Opto’s biggest customer in Japan.

The Tokyo District Court said that two of Nichia’s patents had expired and ordered Nichia to pay Tsann Kuen’s legal fees.

“We are satisfied with the Tokyo District Court’s verdict as we believe our products did not violate patents owned by other companies. Our client, Tsann Kuen Japan, can continue selling Unity Opto’s indoor lighting products in Japan,” Unity Opto said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Nichia filed the lawsuit in Tokyo in 2011, alleging that Tsann Kuen Japan used Unity Opto’s LED lighting chips which infringed two of its patents, the New Taipei City (新北市)-based company said.

Unity Opto started collaborating with Japanese electronics retailers to sell its LED products in Japan in 2010.

Unity Opto might sue Nichia for compensation after further discussion with its client and lawyers, the company said.

After expanding its sales channels to Europe, the US and China over the past year, Unity Opto plans to build more distribution channels in Japan this year, the company said.

Separately, in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Unity Opto said it made a net profit of NT$820 million (US$27.4 million) last year, compared with a loss of NT$531.03 million in 2011.

The company’s board also approved a proposal to distribute a cash dividend of NT$0.2 per share based on last year’s earnings.

Unity Opto yesterday forecast that revenue this quarter would grow by more than 60 percent, as clients placed more orders for LED chips for direct LED-backlit TVs ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday this year.

On an annual basis, orders received for direct LED-backlit TVs grew 15 percent this quarter from the same period of last year, it said.

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