Japan halts imports of Samsung’s flat screens

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Japan halts imports of Samsung’s flat screens

TOKYO ― Japanese Customs officials suspended imports yesterday of plasma display panels for televisions and cell phones made by Samsung SDI, saying the Korean company had possibly infringed on the patents of Fujitsu, a major Japanese producer of the technology. At the beginning of the month, Fujitsu filed lawsuits against Samsung SDI in Tokyo District Court and in the U.S. Federal District Court in Los Angeles, charging Samsung with violating its 10 technology patents. It also demanded a temporary injunction that would allow customs officials to stop Samsung imports. Samsung released a statement yesterday, denouncing the import ban. “The halt by Tokyo Customs before the final decision was made runs counter to international trade practices,” the company said. It said it would consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. In addition, Samsung denounced the move, saying it was provided no opportunity to present a case. Samsung said display panel exports to Japan make up only 3 to 4 percent of its total exports. Fujitsu’s lawsuit was a counter-action to a Samsung suit in February against the Japanese rival in a U.S. court that sought to nullify nine Fujitsu patents. The Japanese import ban would stand while a review determined if infringements had occurred, customs officials said. A final decision will be made after hearing arguments from both Samsung Japan Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. over the next few weeks. Samsung’s flat screens could be barred from Japan’s market and those already in the country would be sent back, destroyed or forfeited, officials said. An industry source said the ban is aimed at slowing Korean rivals that are rapidly gaining market share. Japan had 97 percent of the world market for the panels in 2001. In the first quarter of this year, Samsung SDI led in market share with 24 percent globally. by Kim Hyun-ki, Lee Hyun-sang

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