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Dispute over DVD patents hots up
By Zhang Lu (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-22 09:03

The patent dispute between two Chinese DVD player manufacturers and the 4C Patent Group, managed by the Dutch conglomerate Royal Philips Electronics, has been heating up of late, although both sides are sticking to their guns.

Hong Kong Wuxi Multimedia Ltd and Orient Power (Wuxi) Technology Ltd filed a lawsuit against the group, consisting of Sony Corp, Philips, Pioneer Corp and LG Electronics in the United States, last year, the US counsel representing the plaintiffs said on Tuesday.

The lawsuit claims the four patent holders fixed prices and unlawfully tied their patents together, in addition to conspiring to monopolize the DVD player market, all of which would be in violation of US law.

However, Philips claimed on Friday that there were several inaccuracies and false allegations in recent reports about the case.

"The claim that we monopolize the market and drive Chinese producers out of the market is incorrect," said Ruud Peters, chief executive officer of Philips' Intellectual Property and Standards.

"If Philips wanted to drive Chinese producers out of the market, why would it offer patent licences to them?"

He said so far, 110 Chinese DVD player manufacturers were under 4C Patent Pool licensing.

Peters reiterated that his company had not requested European Union or US customs authorities to block DVD players from China.

"And other claims like unlawful tying are also incorrect," Peters said.

He said DVD player producers were able to decide whether they wanted a single licence from the Patent Pool or separate licences from each of the four companies.

Although Philips encourages companies to take licences from the pool, which are more convenient for both appliers and patent holders, it does not force them to do so, Peters claimed.

Responding to Philips' statement, Anton Handal, lead attorney for the two Chinese companies, said in practice there was no mechanism for Chinese companies to apply for separate patents, and the blocking of Chinese DVD players was rife throughout the globe.

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