February 22, 2007 5:16 PM PST

Judge rules against Canon in nanotube TV case

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December 21, 2006
A federal judge has ruled that Canon breached a licensing agreement with a small nanotechnology company, a decision that puts another roadblock into Canon's effort to come out with a whole new style of flat screen TVs.

Judge Samuel Sparks, with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled in a summary judgment Thursday that Canon violated its agreement with Texas-based Nano-Proprietary by forming a joint television venture with Toshiba.

Nano-Proprietary licensed its technology for making screens and displays out of carbon nanotubes to Canon in 1999. By bringing in Toshiba as a partner, Nano-Proprietary argued that Canon breached the agreement.

Canon, and until recently Toshiba, has been trying to bring to market a TV based around surface-conduction electron-emitter displays. In these displays, which are similar to Nano-Proprietary's, tiny particles blast electrons onto a screen and create images. The screens--in the lab at least--have a sharper resolution than LCD or plasma TVs but are far thinner than traditional cathode ray tube TVs. The project, however, has been subject to several delays.

Damages still need to be determined, a source close to the case said. Canon would also have to negotiate a new agreement if it wants to continue producing these kinds of TVs, assuming the summary judgment ruling stands after any appeals. The case was filed by Nano-Proprietary in 2005.

The case has played havoc with Toshiba's and Canon's plans to bring these TVs to market. Toshiba showed off a nanotube TV in October in Japan and stated it would come to market with a TV in late 2007. In December, however, the company abruptly cancelled plans to display its nanotube TV at CES in the coming January.

In late January, Toshiba transferred its interest in the joint venture to another company, SED Inc., which Canon controls.

Canon and Nano-Proprietary have been in settlement negotiations over the case for the last several weeks. A new licensing agreement between the two companies, therefore, could develop.

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Nano-Proprietary Inc., nanotube TV, nanotube, Canon Inc., Judge


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Superior Tech meets superior ruling...
Will the CEO of Canon/Toshiba take accountability for this fiasco? Will consumers realize that the "holy grail" of HDTV was held up due to corporate mistakes and legality issues? That HDTV you bought in the meantime will be (eventually as all tech) obsolete once (if ever) this SED hits the market. Meanwhile inferior technology is dumped on us...to end up in the dump.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
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canon ceo
the 1999 nanoproprietary, inc./canon contract that was ruled terminated as of 12.1.2006 by judge sam sparks' summary judgement ruling two days ago contains one canon signature: fujio mitarai, the current canon ceo. canon, in its construction of the "corporate fiction designed for the sole purpose of evading canon's contracual obligations." gave usa rule of law cause for the contract termination because of canon performing a material breach of the contract. in the same courtroom setting, canon now faces the issue of monetary damages on the basis of charges of fraud, failing to bargin in good faith, and failing to act in a manner consistent with fair dealing. in the meantime, samsung has expressed an interest in sed. we all hope a sed hd tv will procede to the market shelf as soon as possible, no matter under what label.
Posted by drhoho (1 comment )
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Stupid on both sides
Yes canon messed up, but before they went to market and made a single dime, Toshiba backed out.

I would think it would be in BOTH companies best interest to bring this tech out ASAP. The parent company did not lose a single dime due to canon/Toshiba working together.
Posted by rpvitiello (180 comments )
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Looks like we just have to wait for the patent to die before we can have our SED TVs. Darn.

Nano-Proprietary could have made billions. But now no one will make SED TVs until the patent dies.

Its all greed. And we all lose 15 years. But some day, that patent ends, just like it does with drugs. Then GENERICs rule.
Posted by jameskatt (176 comments )
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