Sony's Patent Claims Against TPV, Innolux Over Monitors to Be Investigated

Sony Corp.’s patent-infringement claims against TPV Technology Ltd. and Innolux Display Corp. will be investigated by a U.S. trade agency that may bar imports of the two companies’ computer monitors if a violation is found.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington said today it would consider Sony’s claims that digital televisions and monitors made in China are infringing 10 Sony patents. The complaint also names ViewSonic Corp., based in Walnut, California, which sells the electronics.

TPV and Innolux “have never taken a license to the asserted patents from Sony,” the Tokyo-based company said in the complaint. “Their products are not covered by any license under the Sony patents.”

TPV, based in Hong Kong, is the world’s largest contract maker of computer monitors and reported $2.5 billion in North American revenue in 2008, according to court filings. The TPV products targeted by Sony’s complaint are sold under the Envision, AOC, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Asus and ViewSonic names.

Innolux merged with Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. last month to become Chimei Innolux Corp., Taiwan’s biggest liquid- crystal display panel maker. The Innolux monitors are sold under the Dell, HP, Acer, ViewSonic and Lenovo names. None of the computer makers, including Hewlett-Packard Co. or Dell Inc., were named in the ITC complaint.

Los Angeles Lawsuit

Sony filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against ViewSonic and TPV last year in federal court in Los Angeles over the same patents. In a Feb. 22 filing in the case, TPV denied infringing the patents and said they are invalid. ViewSonic made similar claims.

Sony, in its ITC complaint, said any import ban wouldn’t affect models made on behalf of companies that already have licenses to the patents. Sony makes Bravia televisions, Cyber- shot cameras and the PlayStation 3 video-game system.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Display Devices, 337- 713, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil case is Sony Corp. v. ViewSonic Corp., 09cv7698, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

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