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34 tech firms sued for alleged LCD patent theft

Honeywell demands 'directional diffuser' dues

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Honeywell has issued lawsuits against 34 companies, including Dell, Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Fujitsu, Sony and Toshiba alleging LCD panels used in their products infringe a 1992 patent the company holds.

The IP in question, patent number 5,280,371, was granted in January 1994. The application was made in July 1992. It covers a LCD's "directional diffuser" - essentially the filter used in many LCDs to increase the angles at which the screen can be viewed.

It's a technique used throughout the LCD world, across a range of devices, such as notebook PCs, LCD monitors and TVs, PDAs, mobile phones, digital cameras and so on.

Anyone found to have infringed the Honeywell patent will have to face the company's demand for monetary damages and a ban on sales of infringing devices.

Not surprisingly, given the wide use of diffraction systems, Honeywell has already licensed its IP to major LCD manufacturers, including Samsung and LG Philips, the company said. Since many of the companies named in the suit don't actually manufacture LCDs themselves, it seems rather rum to sue them rather than their display component partners from whom they will have purchased LCD panels in good faith. And hopefully with indemnity against such action as Honeywell's.

Either way, it's not hard to imagine the likes of Apple, Dell, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji Photo Film, Casio, Kodak, and co. now rushing off to take up the matter with their suppliers. ®

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