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Friday, March 21, 2008
U.S. Trade Body to Probe Sony's Blu-ray

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it would launch an investigation into some 30 companies including Sony and Nokia on possible patent infringements related to Blu-ray disc players, mobiles and other products.

The commission said on its Web site on Thursday that the products involved are short-wavelength light-emitting diodes and laser diodes used in such electronics as handheld mobile devices, traffic lights and high-definition DVD players.

The move is based on a complaint filed in February by Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, who is seeking to block imports into the United States of a range of products that she said were infringing her patent.

The case will be referred to an ITC administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.

Besides Sony, companies cited in the ITC announcement include Nokia, Motorola, LG Electronics, and Panasonic maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd.

Dr Rothschild is currently a professor emeritus of materials science and engineering at Columbia. According to a statement from Dreier, she conducted "ground-breaking" research in the 1980s and 1990s into the electrical and optical properties of wide band-gap semiconductors. The research, the firm said, has proven pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue/violet) diodes used in consumer electronics.

Rothschild was issued a US patent in 1993 that covers a method of producing wide band-gap semiconductors for LEDs and LDs in the blue/ultraviolet end of the spectrum. The portion of her work at issue in the ITC case focuses on using gallium nitride-based semiconductor material in LEDs and LDs.

Rothschild previously settled issues of infringement of her patents with Nichia, OSRAM, and Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV.

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