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U.S. approves import ban on some Sharp TVs, displays

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is banning the import of televisions and other goods containing certain liquid crystal display devices manufactured by Japan's Sharp Corp.

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Wednesday blocked Sharp from importing LCD televisions and displays that infringe on a patent owned by Korea-based Samsung Electronics. Samsung asked the ITC to investigate Sharp's products in December 2007. Sharp filed a counter claim the following month.

Samsung accused Sharp of violating four of its patents, though the ITC ruled that only one was violated.

U.S.-based representatives of both companies declined to comment on the ruling.

It is unclear what impact the import ban will have. Sharp shipped about 9.4 percent of the LCD televisions sold in North America in the first quarter, making it the fifth-largest supplier, according to iSuppli, a market research firm.

Samsung had 19.9 percent market share, second to Vizio, with 21.6 percent.

LCDs are used in televisions, laptop computers and other devices.

The commission hasn't yet issued a final ruling in Sharp's complaint against Samsung. But an ITC administrative judge found earlier this month that Samsung infringed several of Sharp's patents and recommended that imports of Samsung TVs and computer monitors with LCD devices also be barred.

The ITC performs economic research on trade agreements and investigates unfair trade practices, and has the authority to bar imports that infringe U.S. patents and trademark.

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