SED TV Technology Suffers Crushing Setback; Final Blow for Proposed LCD/Plasma Competitor?
Toshiba and Canon, which had partnered on the development of a new flat-panel display technology that seemingly would up the performance ante against LCD and plasma displays, said they have indefinitely postponed the commercial launch of the technology, called surface-emitting display (SED). The launch, already pushed back, was planned for the fourth quarter.
“The specific timeframe for the launch of SED TVs cannot be indicated at this moment,” said Toshiba. Canon said it has decided to “postpone” the SED launch “for the time being,” adding that it will “announce a new launch schedule for SED televisions at a future date.”
The crux of the postponement is “prolonged litigation” in the U.S. against Canon involving patents, along with what Canon called “efforts to establish mass-production technology aimed at realizing further cost reductions.”
The manufacturing issue has long been a problem for the technology; questions have always abounded regarding the partners’ ability to mass-produce SED panels at competitve prices. The litigation, however, is a more recent development.
An Austin, Texas, holding company called Nano-Proprietary claimed it was licensing Canon an SED-related technology, but the agreement soured as Nano-Proprietary terminated the license in December and accused Canon of breach of contract and “fraud unrelated to the ownership of SED.” In February, the company claimed to be “pleased” that Canon and Toshiba were moving forward as partners on SED, and that it was willing to enter into a new license agreement with Canon soon “on reasonable terms.” Shortly thereafter, a U.S. District Judge granted Nano-Proprietary’s motion for summary judgment and ruling that it was entitled to terminate its license with Canon.
Early this month, a jury decided that Nano-Proprietary was “due no additional damages beyond those already received, [including] the right to keep the $5.5 million that it originally received and termination of the original license agreement.”