Tuesday, November 09, 2004

PATENT WAR BREWING ON THE JAPANESE/S. KOREAN BORDER? A week after Matsushita and LG Electronics began a tit-for-tat lawsuit exchange, with both companies claiming the other has infringed their plasma display panel patents, Toshiba has accused Hynix of infringing its DRAM and Flash patents, and has begun legal proceedings against its South Korean rival in the US and Japanese courts.

Japanese electronics makers have been recently filing lawsuits against South Korean makers, which are increasingly challenging their domination in the sector.

A lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court alleges Hynix willfully infringed three of Toshiba's NAND Flash patents. The Japanese company wants the court to block the sales of allegedly infringing components and to force Hynix to cough up damages for the transgression.

A second suit, filed in the US District Court for Northern Texas, alleges infringement of four NAND patents and three others relating to DRAM. Again, Toshiba is seeking an injunction against offending products.

Both cases follow the collapse of talks between the two companies over the extension of an August 1996 semiconductor intellectual property cross-licensing deal. That agreement expired on 31 December 2002, and negotiations centring on the terms of a new agreement have been going on ever since.

Hynix has yet to formally respond to its erstwhile licensing partner's action, but given that the falling-out concerns a cross-licensing deal, Hynix will almost certainly accuse Toshiba of infringing some of its intellectual property and fire off one or more counter-suits.

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