December 30, 2009 / 11:01 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. court to probe Samsung charge against Sharp

* Patent fight is over LCD technology

* Lawsuit is part of a long string of legal battles

WASHINGTON, Dec 30 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade court has agreed to investigate allegations by Samsung (005930.KS) that Japan’s Sharp (6753.T) has infringed its patents to make liquid crystal displays, such as those used in many televisions.

The lawsuit at the International Trade Commission is the latest twist in a long list of suits and countersuits over display panel technology.

Sharp Corp, the world’s fourth-largest LCD television maker, and market leader Samsung Electronics Co Ltd face cutthroat price competition and weak demand for bigger TVs with higher profit margins.

In mid-December, Sharp won an LCD patent lawsuit against Samsung in the Netherlands. That court ordered Samsung’s Dutch sales subsidiary to halt imports and sales of the South Korean company’s LCD panels and LCD TVs that use the technology in question, and to withdraw infringing products from store shelves, Sharp said.

Sharp won another round in mid-November when the U.S. ITC ruled Samsung infringed Sharp patents and should no longer sell infringing devices in the United States.

LCDs are used for television screens and computer monitors. Their faster response speed are suitable for showing fast-moving images.

Samsung and the fourth-ranked Sharp are also in LCD patent-related legal fights in Japan and Germany, as well as other venues in the United States.

Patent suits, appeals and settlements are often a long prelude to a cross-licensing agreement.

The case before the U.S. International Trade Commission is investigation No. 337-TA-699. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Andre Grenon)

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