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Matsushita Withdraws Patent Infringement Suit Against Sonopress
Posted Aug 8, 2003 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd has withdrawn its patent infringement lawsuit against Sonopress LLC, a Bertelsmann company. The lawsuit was filed last December in the Delaware Federal District Court and alleged infringement of Matsushita patents covering DVD technology. Sonopress has now licensed Matsushita DVD patents through the DVD6C Licensing Agency and Matsushita. The DVD6C Licensing Agency represents Matsushita and five other founders of the DVD Forum in DVD patent licensing.

Matsushita originally filed the patent infringement suit against Sonopress in order to protect "valuable Intellectual Property," according to a company spokesman. "Matsushita, developed a portfolio of valuable Intellectual Property, including the patents that are involved in this lawsuit," the spokesman said. "In June of 1999, Matsushita offered to license its patents, which are essential to the manufacturing of DVD products, either through the DVD6C Licensing Agency or directly, to manufacturers who make DVD products." It took some time for Sonopress to agree to sign the licenses. "Matsushita Electric believes it is important to protect its valuable Intellectual Rights and, further, that it is not fair to the companies that played by the rules and have taken licenses if we allow companies without licenses to use our patents. It's for those reasons that we took this legal action."

Sonopress is obviously glad the suit has been settled, and says it was unwarranted in the first place. Sonopress LLC in Weaverville, North Carolina is a part of the Arvato Storage Media GmbH (ASM), a division of Arvato Bertelsmann AG, which provides services to content owners, mainly in manufacturing optical discs. Arvato Storage Media GmbH is a German company, based in Guetersloh. "As a replicator of optical discs, we know that we need licenses for manufacturing them," says August Katern, director of licensing and patents. "For DVD, we need several licenses from 3C, DVA, MPEG-LA, FLLC, DVD CCA, Macrovision, and also from 6C. In Europe, Toshiba is responsible for the 6C licensing. ASM talked with them about a worldwide license agreement for DVD. Matsushita, who is responsible for the American market, and didn't get licensing contacts from Sonopress LLC, although Sonopress has replicated DVDs. So they prosecuted us for infringement," he says.

Meanwhile, ASM entered into a worldwide license agreement with 6C in March 2002, which eliminated any patent infringement claim against Sonopress, and Matsushita dropped the patent infringement suit. A similar case filed by Matsushita against Cinram International and subsequent counter-suit are still pending.

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