Pioneer Sues Two Samsung Companies Over Plasma-TV Patents

Japan's Pioneer Corp. said on Monday it filed a suit in the United States against South Korea's Samsung SDI Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. for what it says are patent violations in its plasma-display-panel technology.

Samsung SDI, the world's top plasma display panel maker, said it plans to file a counter-suit, although no date has been set.

Pioneer's move is the latest in a series of intellectual property suits and counter-suits between Japanese companies and their Asian rivals as they seek to maintain a technological edge.

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"We decided that litigation was necessary to protect our intellectual property," Pioneer spokesman Kesanobu Yamagishi said of the suit, the first time the company has litigated for a possible patent infringement.

Samsung SDI, which is also in patent spats with Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (MC) and Fujitsu Ltd., had been in talks with Pioneer since April 2005 about possible licensing agreements, but the talks fell through, Yamagishi said.

Pioneer is asking for a court order to stop Samsung SDI's sales of plasma display panels and compensation for alleged violations of a patent for electrode configuration boosting display quality and another patent for a manufacturing step that increases display brightness.

The case would have no impact on Samsung SDI's sales and output, a Samsung SDI official said.

Pioneer's suit comes after LG Electronics Inc. and Matsushita decided in April 2005 to settle a similar dispute over plasma display technology, by signing a cross-licensing agreement.

Plasma panels are the key component in plasma televisions, a market that research firm DisplaySearch expects to nearly double in five years to $28 billion dollars in 2010.

Japanese companies have been aggressively suing their Asian competitors, ever since it saw its monopoly in key markets like dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and liquid crystal displays crumble and give way to Asian companies like Samsung Electronics.

Last month, a U.S. federal court rejected suits by Samsung and Matsushita over memory chips, ruling that neither company had infringed the other's patents.

Pioneer shares gained 0.72 percent to 2,085 yen, while Samsung SDI shares rose 2.77 percent to 77,800 won.