LG Answers Hitachi Patent Suit With Counterclaim

LG Electronics has filed a countersuit against Hitachi alleging that the firm has infringed seven of its patents that relate to plasma display panel (PDP) technologies. The suit comes in response to similar accusations made by Hitachi against LG Electronics in April — namely, that LG was improperly using Hitachi’s PDP patent.

The LG suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, names Hitachi and its unit in the United States, as well as Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display, a joint venture formed with Japan’s Fujitsu.

The two firms had been attempting to reach a settlement and licensing agreement on these patents since 2005.

Necessary Step?

The case appears similar to many other examples of patent litigation, said Charles Hosch, partner with the law firm Strasburger & Price.

It stems from “a business dispute that should have a business resolution, but the courthouse is a necessary step along the way,” he told TechNewsWorld.

This “you sue me, I sue you” strategy is not a new one, Hosch said, but rather is one that has been intensified in recent years for a number of reasons. For starters, the product lifecycles for many of the technologies patented recently are so short that manufacturers are feeling greater pressure to innovate. Patent litigation is essential to protecting expensive R&D.

Growth of Rocket Dockets

While patent litigation is typically more drawn-out than other types of litigation, that is starting to change, Hosch added. So-called rocket dockets, like the district court in Texas, are pushing patent cases through at a faster rate than ever before — a factor that might tip a company’s wavering decision to sue.

There are about five or six federal district courts with special rules and procedures for patent litigation, Hosch noted, and that number is expected to grow as more courts are considering the adoption of similar rules.

“Many federal courts are coming to realize they enjoy hearing patent litigation more than they used to,” he remarked.

These pressures are not limited to the U.S. high-tech market.

“One development I have noticed is that Japanese firms are moving gradually to adopt a more litigious posture on these matters — particularly with respect to newer technologies,” Hosch observed. “Historically, that is something they have been reluctant to do.”

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