updated 08:35 am EDT, Fri March 21, 2008
ITC Patent Dispute
A patent infringement claim may lead to blocks against importing both Blu-ray technology as well as cellphones and other storage, the US International Trade Commission said today. The potential impasse has its roots in a complaint by patent holder and Columbia University emeritus professor Gertrude Rothschild, who claims that bringing numerous foreign-made devices with short-wave lasers and LEDs violates her own claims to the technology in the US. Most companies affected by the dispute are those producing Blu-ray optical storage drives and involve chief backer Sony as well as LG, Pioneer, Samsung, and Sharp.
Toshiba is also implicated for the blue laser in its HD DVD players, though the end of the format reduces the impact of the complaint on its business.
However, the suit also implicates multiple cellphone makers and may complicate the sale of cellphones in the country. Motorola, Nokia, and Sony-Ericsson are directly implicated in the complaint, which may also affect LG and other firms that produce both handsets as well as HD video readers. Calls to restrict part suppliers, such as optical drive maker Lite-On, may also impact third-party computer and general electronics firms.
The ITC has not said when it expects to hold an evidence hearing regarding Rothschild's complaint but says it will set an end date for the investigatino within the next 45 days. A successful ban on importing the devices would take effect within 60 days of a ruling.