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Matsushita, LG calm plasma patent clash

Out-of-court settlement agreed, apparently

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Last November's plasma display patents dispute between South Korea's LG Electronics and Japan's Matsushita has been resolved, it has been reported in the Japanese press.

Matsushita sued LG, alleging the company had infringed its intellectual property rights, by using its patented method of dispersing heat from the screens. It asked the Tokyo District Court to ban LG from importing the allegedly offending displays into Japan and from selling those units already there.

LG immediately countersued, claiming Matsushita had infringed its own plasma patents. It asked South Korean trade authorities to block the importation and sale of Panasonic plasma display products, and said it was considering filing a similar lawsuit in Tokyo. It also threatened to complain to the World Trade Organisation if Matsushita triumphed in the Japanese court.

As is common in such cases, all this legal posturing is little more than a bargaining ploy on both companies' parts. This time it has worked, and the respective battles will not come to court. Instead, the two companies have agreed to cross-license their intellectual property.

Details have not yet been made public - neither party has yet to comment on the matter in pubic - but Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun this weekend said the deal is believed to involve LG paying a royalty to Matsushita, in return for access to the latter's IP; Matsushita also gets access to LG's IP.

The legal battle and its resolution are the latest such incidents as Korean and Japanese firms squabble over technology. Toshiba and Hynix are trading blows over Flash memory patents, for example. Sony and Samsung, on the other hand, were able to come to an agreement, reached last December, without first threatening each other with court appearances. ®

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