AU to seek US import ban on LG Display LCD panels

Such a ban could hurt as LG Display is world's largest LCD panel maker

Taiwan's AU Optronics plans to seek an injunction in the U.S. against the import and sale of LCD panels made by South Korean rival LG Display that infringe on four of its patents, a ban that could hurt consumers because LG accounts for over a quarter of the world's LCD panel supply.

The potential ban on LG Display (LGD) panels comes after a multifaceted U.S. court case wrapped up Friday, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruling that LGD failed to prove that AU Optronics (AUO) violated four patents related to materials and processes used in making LCD panels. The ruling ends a three and a half-year court battle initiated by LGD that included a counter-claim against LGD by AUO. AUO won the counter-claim portion of the case in a ruling announced on Feb. 16.

"The court concludes that AUO has established by preponderance of the evidence that LGD literally infringes the patents asserted by AUO in this action, and that LGD has not established by clear and convincing evidence that the asserted patents are invalid," wrote Judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr., in a 77-page verdict.

In Friday's 67-page court ruling, Farnan said LGD did not establish infringement of its patents by AUO.

"AU Optronics is very pleased with the result," it said in a statement on Sunday. Based on the findings from the counter-claim trial and the end of the LGD infringement trial on Friday, AUO said it will seek the injunction against LGD.

"AUO hopes that LGD's customers will immediately cease purchasing any unauthorized infringing products from LGD for sale or use in the U.S. without the need for further court action," AU said in its statement.

LGD representatives could not be reached for comment by phone and did not immediately respond to e-mails.

LGD could file further appeals or motions in its case or reach a settlement with AUO on the matter. Barring such action, an AUO victory in any kind of U.S. import injunction against LGD could hurt U.S. consumers amid strong demand for products that use LCD screens.

LGD has shipped more large-sized LCD panels, used in screens for LCD-TVs, laptop PCs and desktop monitors, than any other LCD maker in the world for the past six months, according to market researcher Displaybank.

The company shipped 25.2 percent of the global supply of such products in March, compared to 22.5 percent by second-place Samsung Electronics and third-ranked AUO's 17.2 percent.

LCD shipments have been so brisk in recent months that PC makers such as Asustek Computer have complained of some shortages, and Displaybank noted that large-sized LCD panel shipments reached an all-time high of 56.87 million panels in March.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service

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