Sony files law­suit to ban ship­ments of LG cell to US

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

NEW YORK: Sony Corp., Ja­pan's biggest ex­porter of con­sumer elec­tron­ics, filed patent-in­fringe­ment claims seek­ing to block LG Elec­tron­ics Inc. from ship­ping mo­bile phones to the U.S.

Sony filed the com­plaints Dec. 28 with the U.S. In­ter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion in Washington, and in a fed­eral court in Los An­ge­les. The ITC, which is con­sid­er­ing at least a dozen cases re­lated to the ex­pand­ing mar­ket for smart­phones, has the power to block im­ports of prod­ucts found to vi­o­late U.S. pa­tents. The fed­eral court can im­pose fi­nan­cial penal­ties.

LG phones in­clud­ing the Lo­tus Elite, Neon, Re­marq, Ru­mor 2 and Xenon are us­ing Sony technology with­out per­mis­sion, Tokyo-based Sony said in the civil law­suit. LG, the world's third-largest maker of mo­bile phones, is also be­ing tar­geted in Sony's patent suit for its Blu-ray disc play­ers. A copy of the ITC com­plaint wasn't im­me­di­ately avail­able.

"Sony has been keen to pro­tect its pa­tents," said Yuji Fu­ji­mori, a Tokyo-based an­a­lyst at Bar­clays Cap­i­tal. "U.S. is an im­por­tant mar­ket for Sony as its mo­bile phone ven­ture with Eric­s­son is try­ing to win a big­ger share."

The Ja­panese elec­tron­ics maker fell 1.3 per­cent to 2,919 yen as of 1 p.m. in Tokyo trad­ing. LG gained 3.1 per­cent to 117,500 won in Seoul. The eight Sony pa­tents in the fed­eral court case in­clude ones re­lated to a way to dis­play tele­phone-num­ber list­ings, di­rec­tion keys on a por­ta­ble phone and sig­nal trans­mis­sion.

John Tay­lor, a spokesman in the U.S. for Seoul-based LG, said the com­pany doesn't com­ment on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion. Sony plans to in­vest 100 bil­lion yen ($1.2 bil­lion) over the next fis­cal year to dou­ble pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity for im­age sen­sors used in smart­phones. A com­pany spokesman this week said an Asahi news­pa­per re­port that Sony may start sell­ing a PSP hand­held game ma­chine equipped with a phone was "spec­u­la­tion."

LG, which plans to be­gin sales in Jan­uary of the first smart­phone built with a du­al­core pro­ces­sor, said Dec. 27 it's try­ing to boost rev­enue at its con­sumer elec­tron­ics, dis­plays and hand­sets units by 13 per­cent in 2011. The com­pany lags be­hind Nokia Oyj and Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Co. in sales of mo­bile phones, ac­cord­ing to re­searcher Gart­ner Inc. Global sales of all mod­els of mo­bile phones to end users rose 35 per­cent in the third quar­ter to 417 mil­lion units, Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut-based Gart­ner said last month. There were 80.5 mil­lion smart­phones sold. The ITC typ­i­cally com­pletes its in­ves­ti­ga­tions in about 15 months, faster than the district courts.

Sony's ITC case is In the Mat­ter of Cer­tain Mo­bile Tele­phones and Modems, Com­plaint No. 2777, U.S. In­ter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion (Washington). The civil suit is Sony Corp. v. LG Elec­tron­ics USA Inc., 10cv9967, U.S. District Court for the Cen­tral District of Cal­i­for­nia (Los An­ge­les).

More­over, in a sep­a­rate news item, Nintendo Co. will bar chil­dren ages 6 and younger from us­ing the 3-D func­tions of its new hand­held game ma­chine at an in­tro­duc­tory event for the de­vice.

"Look­ing at 3-D im­ages for a long time may harm the growth of chil­dren's eyes," Nintendo said in a note to vis­i­tors com­ing to the event next month, posted on its web­site. The com­pany's new 3DS play­ers will be pro­moted at the three-day event in Chiba pre­fec­ture, near Tokyo. The hand­held, which can show 3-D im­ages with­out us­ing spe­cial glasses, is Nintendo's biggest por­ta­ble prod­uct de­but since the 2004 re­lease of the touch­screen DS player, which sold more than 132 mil­lion units world­wide. The world's largest maker of video-game play­ers will start sell­ing the prod­uct in Ja­pan from Feb. 26 and in the U.S. and Europe the fol­low­ing month. Nintendo, based in Ky­oto, also said users should take a break ev­ery 30 min­utes when play­ing games in 3-D for­mat or stop play­ing im­me­di­ately if they feel ill. The com­pany faces in­ten­si­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion from Sony Corp. and Mi­crosoft Corp., which have in­tro­duced mo­tion-sens­ing con­trollers for their videogame con­soles, while Ap­ple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad de­vices are in­creas­ingly be­ing used for gam­ing. Nintendo fell 1.5 per­cent to 24,050 yen as of 10:30 a.m. in Osaka trad­ing, nar­row­ing its gain this year to 9.1 per­cent. Ja­pan's bench­mark Nikkei 225 Stock Av­er­age slid 1.2 per­cent. In a sep­a­rate news item, Pri­vate trad­ing that helped spur paper gains of 50 per­cent or more in com­pa­nies such as Face­book Inc. and Twit­ter Inc. is rais­ing ques­tions about how much in­vestors know about their fi­nan­cial con­di­tion.

Face­book, Twit­ter and other ven­ture-backed In­ter­net com­pa­nies have seen their com­bined value rise 54 per­cent since June, ac­cord­ing to a re­port this month by Nyppex LLC that fo­cused on so-called sec­ondary trans­ac­tions that in­volve buy­ing stock from ex­ist­ing share­hold­ers. The Wall Street Jour­nal and New York Times re­ported that the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion is seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about trans­ac­tions in Face­book, Twit­ter, Zynga Game Net­work Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.

While back­ers of venues such as New York-based Se­condMar­ket Inc. that match buy­ers and sell­ers in pri­vate com­pa­nies say they meet a de­mand where no pub­lic mar­ket ex­ists, Frank Maz­zola of Felix In­vest­ments says it makes sense reg­u­la­tors would want a clearer pic­ture of trad­ing. Dixon Doll, co-founder of the ven­ture-cap­i­tal firm DCM, says reg­u­la­tors may be study­ing how the venues af­fect rules re­lated to how many peo­ple own com­pa­nies that aren't reg­is­tered for trad­ing.

"Any time when you have some­thing that's grow­ing and deal­ing with pri­vate in­vestors, scru­tiny is a good thing," said Maz­zola, a part­ner at New York-based Felix In­vest­ments LLC, which ar­ranges pools to in­vest in non­pub­lic com­pa­nies. His firm's ri­vals in that busi­ness in­clude EB Ex­change Funds LLC and GreenCrest Cap­i­tal LLC. -Cour­tesy Bloomberg

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