SED Lawsuit Against Canon Dismissed

In a brief statement, electronics giant Canon has announced that the patent infringement case brought against it by Nano-Proprietary over its SED TV product development has been dismissed, with the jury returning a verdict that Nano-Proprietary sustained no damages.

Back in February, the court found that Canon had breached its patent license agreement with Nano-Proprietary by setting up SED, Inc., as a joint venture with Toshiba and then letting SED, Inc., use Canon’s license for Nano-Proprietary’s technology. Although Canon had bought out Toshiba’s share of the joint venture in order to clarify the patent situation, the judge was unimpressed. However, the jury apparently felt that Canon’s actions hadn’t caused Nano-Proprietary any significant harm.

Canon says it plans to appeal the court’s decision that it was in breach of its patent license agreement, which enabled Nano-Proprietary to keep the entire $5.5 milion license fee.

The resolution of the patent infringement suit doesn’t clear the way for Canon to develop SED televisions. Along with getting to keep the $5.5 million fee, Nano-Proprietary also got the original license agreement terminated, which means Canon now has no license to key technology. "Nothing about [the] verdict changes the fact that we have significant intellectual property that we believe will have to be licensed by anybody, including Canon, that wishes to sell televisions based on electron emissions in the broad geographical areas of the world where our IP is in effect," wrote Nano-Proprietary CEO Tom Bijou in a statement. In other words, if Canon wants to make SED televisions, it’s going to have to come back to Nano-Proprietary and negotiate a new license.

SED flat panel technology offers the potential to create flat-screen televisions that are brighter and use less power than traditional LCD flat-panel displays. However, the fracas over the technology may make development of SED panel impractical in the short and medium term—even if one has licenses to all the necessary technology—especially as prices for LCD panels continue to drop.

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