LG sues Hitachi over plasma patents

South Korea’s LG Electronics said Monday it had filed a countersuit against Hitachi, its US subsidiary and a flat panel joint venture with Fujitsu over alleged violations of plasma display panel (PDP) technology patents.

LG is seeking an injunction on the Japanese rival’s infringement of its seven PDP technologies and monetary compensation in the lawsuit filed with a US district court in Texas, after Hitachi sued LG in April for patent infringement on similar technologies.

LG’s move is the latest in a series of patent suits between Korean companies and their Japanese rivals as they try to maintain technological leadership over each other in the competitive flat panel display market.

“Intellectual property is one of LG’s essential assets, which we will always uncompromisingly protect,” Lee Jeong-hwan, LG’s executive vice present, said.

LG and Hitachi have been trying to reach a settlement regarding PDP technology patents since 2005, but they have failed to reach an agreement because of differences of opinion over the proprietary nature of their PDP technologies.

Hitachi said Monday that it had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment.

The legal disputes come as LG, the world’s second-largest PDP maker after Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial, struggles to reduce heavy losses at its PDP business. PDP makers have been losing ground to LCD producers. Stiff competition in the industry has forced LG to halt production at one of its three domestic PDP lines as part of restructuring.

Earlier this year, LG also filed a patent infringement lawsuit against China's Thomson TCL Electronics and its holding company over digital television technologies, to guard against the rapid growth of Chinese TV makers.

In 2005, South Korea's Samsung SDI also filed a lawsuit against Matsushita in the US, seeking to nullify the Japanese flat panel maker's patents. Last year, Japan’s Pioneer sued Samsung SDI and Samsung Electronics in the US for the alleged patent violations in its PDP technology.

Additional reporting by Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo

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