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Japan Suddenly Halts Imports of Samsung PDP Products

Posted April. 21, 2004 20:40,   


The Tokyo Customs Office has postponed Samsung SDI’s Plasma Display Panels (PDP) from direct customs clearances. According to this decision, the conflict between Korean and Japanese companies over patents appears to have created trade friction between the two countries.

On April 21, the Tokyo Customs Office, which had accepted the request of Fujitsu to ban the import of Samsung PDP products, has abruptly postponed the whole procedure of importation of the relevant products, reported Mainichi Shimbun and NHK.

This is the first time a Japanese customs office has halted an imported product in connection with a technology dispute.

The Japanese customs office will investigate as to whether the products have violated the patent rights of a certain company. If it confirms that they have, the relevant products will be sent back or confiscated and be dismantled.

On April 6, Fujitsu filed a complaint to Japanese and U.S. courts to block the import and sale of the relevant products, and compensation for damages in relation to the breach of patent rights.

On the petition, Fujitsu asserted that Samsung SDI has violated 10 patent rights of theirs, such as technology of radiation structures, which aim at increasing brightness and longevity of PDP products.

Though Fujitsu has occupied the number one spot in the global PDP market until the third quarter of the last year, Samsung took that place in the fourth quarter of 2003.

On the other hand, Samsung SDI believes the arrangement of the Tokyo Customs Office will not influence the whole flow of imports because the ratio of Japanese imports accounts for only three to four percent of the whole importation.

But because this arrangement is regarded as a restraint against the prospering display industry of Korea, they are considering issuing a complaint to the World Trade Organization and confronting the situation in earnest.

“Despite the fact that the final restriction of import has not been confirmed yet, the Tokyo Customs Office has violated international trade customs,” stated Samsung SDI, adding, “The application of inspection law, which was conducted by the customs office, was originally designed to prevent the import of fake products.”

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy has also decided to provide experts, such as a patent attorney, to collect the relevant information, and draw up appropriate countermeasures by establishing a regular government agency which will try to solve patent-related problems under the control of Commission for Electronic Industry Prosperity.

In addition, they have decided to provide governmental subsidies directly to the company consortiums in preparation for patent disputes.

Hun-Joo Cho Jin-Suk Huh hanscho@donga.com jameshuh@donga.com