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Subject : Free from Price Fixing Suspicion in The U.S. and Victory over LCD Patent Dispute in Korea   
Date 2009-08-28 Visit 4538

Good news follow one after another for Samsung Electronics, who continues to advance in spite of global recession. Recently, the U.S. Ministry of Justice declared that Samsung Electronics is free from suspicion of price fixing flash memory semiconductor devices. Meanwhile, the Korean Intellectual Property Tribunal (KIPT) decided in favor of Samsung Electronics over a dispute between Samsung Electronics and Sharp Electronics (Japan) regarding a liquid crystal display (LCD) patent.

◊ Clear Of ‘Flash Memory Price Fixing’

In 2007, the U.S. Ministry of Justice notified Samsung Electronics that the U.S. Ministry of Justice would launch an investigation on suspicion that Samsung Electronics was price fixing NAND flash memory semiconductor devices. The notification was like a bolt out of the blue to Samsung Electronics, who had been at the top of the global NAND flash market. In fear of paying hundreds of millions of dollars as fine, Samsung Electronics became extremely anxious.

Since Samsung Electronics had already been levied a fine of 400 million dollars in 2005 for price fixing D-RAM, the notification was more shocking. Some presumed that the United States was playing the ‘price fixing’ card for protection of its domestic industries. Anyway, the investigation of the U.S. Ministry of Justice, infamous for its sternness, had continued for two years.

However, after failing to find evidence of price fixing after summoning all people concerned and ransacking every office related, the U.S. Ministry of Justice recently notified Samsung Electronics that Samsung Electronics is clear of the price-fixing suspicion and concluded the investigation. The favorable conclusion of the investigation will help Samsung Electronics to expand its share in globally expanding the NAND flash market.

◊ Seizing Chance Of Victory Over Sharp

Samsung Electronics has been in a patent dispute against its Japanese competitor, Sharp Electronics, since 2007. On August 6, the KIPT decided that the relevant LCD patent of Sharp Electronics is invalid, because the patent is similar to prior arts. A personnel of Samsung Electronics welcomed the decision and said, “It seems that we seized a chance of victory in the long-time patent dispute against Sharp.”

Sharp filed patent infringement litigation at the U.S. court of Texas in August 2007, saying that Samsung Electronics infringed on a patent of Sharp Electronics regarding wide viewing angle of LCD, to hold Samsung Electronics, which has been at the top of global LCD market since 1998, in check. Samsung Electronics soon filed countersuits, and the dispute expanded to the U.S., Japan, Europe, and Korea.

However, the decision of the KIPT will help Samsung Electronics to prevail the dispute. If the legal ground accepted by the KIPT is also accepted by patent courts in other nations, Samsung Electronics will have an advantage in international disputes against Sharp Electronics.



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