Tag: auo

Samsung in more bother at home

Samsung has landed itself in another two legal disputes.

The company faces accusations from panel maker AU Optronics (AUO), which claims that Samsung  infringed its LCD patents. Meanwhile, Korea’s CJ Group has said that the company committed an “act of betrayal” over an acquisition bidding for logistics company Korea Express.

Samsung isn’t having an easy time recently, and it looks as though the CJ Group plans to add to its woes.

The finger pointing began because Samsung’s Securities arm had a contract with the CJ Group. However, because its sister company – Samsung SDS – had decided to go head to head with the CJ Group in the Korea Express acquisition, the Securities arm decided to terminate the contract out of fairness.

However, the CJ Group said that the company’s actions were “fooling no one”. It said that through its contract, Samsung Securities had already garnered enough information to know exactly  how much the group was bidding for the logistics company – which it could then pass onto Samsung SDS.

“Samsung Securities has possession of all critical and classified information in regard to the bidding, including the price we planned to offer. There is a very big possibility that this information would be relayed to Samsung SDS,” the group told the Korea Herald.

CJ’s chairman Lee Jay-hyun’s cousin is Lee Jae-yong, president of Samsung Electronics and heir to Samsung Group.

Apparently Mr Jay-hyun felt personally betrayed after he had gone to his cousin and privately requested his support to help CJ acquire Korea Express, something that he didn’t listen to.

We’re not sure what the courts will make of this unusual case, but Samsung isn’t exactly flavour of the month in South Korea at the moment. Nor is it squeaky clean.

Earlier this month the company was publicly forced to get its act together and stamp out corruption after an inspection alleged that elements of the company were involved in wrong doings.

The South Korean government decided to make an example of the company, making the case public.

Things got worse last week when a court ruled that it had to pay compensation to two families, after it found that a pair who worked cleaning wafers on a production line in Gyeonggi Provincehad contracted leukaemia. They passed away as a result of the company’s processes, it is alleged.

And there’s more trouble for the company to contend with. AUO has announced that it will seek damages from Samsung and three of its customers for allegedly infringing its LCD patents.

However, it could be a small case of tit for tat here with Samsung filing a similar lawsuit against AUO earlier this month.

AUO has gone to the federal courts in Delaware and California and the International Trade Commission, with claims that Samsung, alongside AT&T and Best Buy, infringed 10 of its patents used in LCDs.

It wants Samsung to pay compensation and also remove the screens found in monitors, TVs, mobile phones and notebooks.

We’re not saying it’s related, but Samsung was saved from a huge fine last year when it grassed up conspirators in a price fixing scam.

Business booming since Taiwan relaxed cross-strait law

AUO has been given the green light by Taiwanese authorities to make a splash in the flat panel industry across the Strait in China.

The Investment Commission, under the guidance of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, has approved a merger with Kunshan Long Fei Opto-Electronics Co.

AUO will spend $796 million in order to grab a 49 percent stake in Long Fei which will give the Taiwanese firm access to an 8.5G flat panel display factory, enabling a greater presence in the Chinese market.

AUO, alongside Chimei Innolux, has made appeals to the Taiwanese authorities in the past to allow for greater access to the Chinese market, with restrictions gradually being relaxed over the past months.

The go-ahead from domestic authorities for the Long Fei deal will be good news for AUO, which, despite only a 49 percent share, will be handed management of the plant.

AUO had originally hoped to obtain a license to construct a 7.5G plant in China, but was unable to gain a place in the competitive high-generation Chinese flat panel sector.

There have so far been only five 7.5G and 8.5G plants given licenses, with BOE, CSOT, Samsung, LG, and of course Long Fei.

So in order to gain a place among the in-crowd it makes sense for AUO to buy its way into the group.

With the considerable experience that AUO has in its domestic market with two 8.5G plants, it is thought that AUO will have an edge on its Chinese competitors.

Both BOE and CSOT have not produced panels at that level before.

While AUO may have rather have its own self owned plant at first, the sub $800 price tag to make the jump across the water is in any case less than the $3 billion estimated cost to build.

It is thought that the plant will become operational in 2013.

Just a quick glance on the Taiwan Economic News homepage reveals further benefits to the relaxed law.

The massive Wintek has teamed up with the Chinese Tianma to pair on OLED panels. Tianma is the largest supplier of small/medium sized LCDs in China. 

Although Taiwan has long supported WiMAX, business proposals are flooding in from the mainland about working together on TD-LTE, both in manufacturing and on marketing. Commentators believe now is the time to capitalise on the burgeoning market. CENS says China Mobile and Far EasTone launched a TD-LTE testing centre, together, in Taipei recently. China Mobile is top of its game in China, and there will be plenty of business on both sides of the Strait for technology testing to flourish.

Meanwhile Taipei has opened its doors to the first lot of Chinese free independent travellers, who will arrive in the country late June for the tour. It’s expected that the travellers will bring with them significant economic benefits, not to mention plenty of business opportunity. 

PC panel prices rise because of high demand

Panel prices are rising because of a huge demand for PC panels, analysts have said.

According to Goksen Sertler, an analyst at Meko, panel makers are also jumping on the back of this and trying to make as much profit as they can.

The comments come as AU Optronics (AUO) said that PC panel prices would rise by five and six percent this quarter compared to the last. It fingered the improving commercial notebook computer demand in the US and most Asian markets such as China for the rise.

However, the forecast was slightly lower than that proffered by the company back in April when at the time it said we’d see a five to eight percent rise around this time.

According to the Taipei Times, PC panel prices rebounded 3.7 percent to $55 per unit from last quarter compared to the $53 in the previous quarter.

However, touch panels, commonly used in tablets are continuing to rise, with AUO claiming about 10 percent to 15 percent of its notebook panels are equipped with touch sensors. Instead of this being good news however, the company claims that this has caused “supply constraints”.

However, Ms Sertler said there was more to it than a demand for these panels. She told TechEye: “The reason why panel price rise is because there is a huge demand for PCpanels. Therefore panel makers are trying to make some profit out of this.

“The second reason is some product improvements, such as better resolution and
multi touch. If we look back to the end of 2010, there was only Apple with its iPad, now we can count 16 brands that have their tablets or Ereaders launched to the market already.

“More brands and more variety of models keep coming.  Consumers are also eager to buy tablets, e-books. Consumer want the content while they are mobile, this is what drives the demand.”

She said that recent research showed  the number of tablet users jumped from two percent to five percent since December 2010 in the UK.

“A tablet on its own with no web access is not much use. Content side from application providers also keeps coming so this keeps the demand alive,” she added.

“However once these early adaptors phase is finished, there will be a chasm to pass to the early majority stage (according to the theory of technology life cycle). when we come to that chasm point, brands will be left with lots of stock.

“Therefore we do suggest tablet and ereader makers to be careful about their stock level.”

Samsung fingered in another LCD price fixing scam

Samsung is accused of being involved in a price fixing cartel by BrandsMart USA.

The electronics retailer has pointed the finger at the company, claiming that it, alongside LG, AU Optronics, Chi Mei Optoelectronics and Toshiba, allegedly fixed prices of liquid crystal displays to drive up prices for retailers from 1996 to 2006.

According to the complaint filed by Interbond Corporation of America – the name BrandsMart sits behind – the accused allegedly also used the gang to restrict production of the LCD panels, used in mobile phones and computer monitors.

The company claims that the group held monthly and quarterly meetings between the alleged dates where they would whisper about how to keep price and supplies low.

Ringing any bells? Samsung was spared a huge fine in December last year when it grassed up the likes of LG and AUO to the European Commission which was also looking into claims of price fixing.

To date, three execs at Chi Mei Optoelectronics and the president of HannStar have been thrown in the clink after being found guilty of price fixing, while Dell has also pointed the finger at the same lot for the same reasons. 

Kingston demands Taiwanese alliance against Samsung

Kingston Technology co-founder David Sun appears to be losing his marbles, telling the world of a crackpot scheme to unite leading Taiwanese firms in a battle against the foreign invader Samsung.

Stopping just short of a stirring ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ rhetoric, David Sun has called on the Taiwanese government to form an alliance of DRAM makers against the invading might of South Korea’s Samsung.

An unholy alliance of TSMC, AUO, HTC and Powerchip Semiconductor Corp has been suggested to be enlisted in the battle against their common foe, which Sun believes has been making moves into the island.

According to Sun, South Korean banks are able to throw a lot of financial weight behind the foreign deals of the mega-brands, particularly Samsung, while Taiwan’s high tech industries do not have the available resources to fall back on.

And with the smaller size of some Tawainese firms meaning that the island’s banks are reluctant to lend financial support, Sun believes domestic firms are at a disadvantage to mega-bucks Samsung, which has ventured into electronics industries in Taiwan.

Furthermore, as part of Sun’s plan, he believes following losses reported by many of the island’s DRAM firms, the Taiwanese government should provide a $2 billion warchest to begin the battle to drive Samsung from its shores.

This will apparently form the basis of helping the DRAM makers ‘integrate’, with the goal of pulling in leaders in the silicon foundry, flat panel and handset industries to the fight, according to CENS.

Sun, who we guess is holed up in a bunker putting together counter invasion plans as we speak, said that a coalition of TSMC, AUO, HTC and PSC would be the “optimum situation”.

Sharp cut by AUO for patent infringement

Sharp has become the latest company to be accused of patent infringement.

The finger pointing comes from AU Optronics and its US partner AU Optronics America who have filed two complaints against the company. The first, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges that Sharp infringed patents 6,818,967, 7,057,359, 7,125,157, 7,259,526, 7,317,289, and 7,172,331.  

The second complaint was filed in the United States Central District of California and alleges that Sharp infringed patents 7,771,098, 7,723,728 and 7,101,073.

AUO claims that Sharp took advantage of these in its LCD range of TVs including its
Quattron series, which AUO believes to infringe patent number 7,771,098. This is a multi-primary colour display, which AUO claims was invented at its own technology centre.

It now wants an “unspecified amount of damages and permanent injunction against the infringing products, among other reliefs.”

However, we can’t help but think AUO has had it in for Sharp since last year when the company sued AUO amongst others, claiming that they had infringed its patented LCD technology.

In a case of deja vu, Sharpmade two complaints with the US International Trade Commission and District Court for Delaware. It also wanted AUO to splash out on some compensation.

The court order comes after Sharp and AUO failed to renew a contract at the end of 2010 to license Sharp’s patented LCD technology to AUO.

AUO claims new PV module is at 'world's highest' efficiency

AUO has announced that it will showcase what it claims to be the world’s highest efficiency PV module – which enables a conversion rate of 19.5 percent efficiency.

The electronics firm will unveil its SunForte PM318B00 product at the 2011 SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation Exhibition & Conference.

The high efficiency mono-crystalline module will be targeted towards densely populated urban areas with smaller rooftops, claiming that the product is roughly 40 percent higher than that of a conventional module in the industry.

However, whether or not the claimed ‘world’s highest’ 19.5 percent efficiency is specifically with regards to the PV module or the cells is not clear.  Cells are usually discuss by manufacturers as they work at a higher efficiency due to smaller size, with other companies such as Sanyo having reached past the 20 percent mark in cells that are currently on the market.

AUO will also be showing off its PM240P00 module which will be able to withstand salt corrosion and moisture in coastal or humid areas, as it attempts to make further inroads into the PV module market since beginning to develop its solar business back in 2008.

AUO will also be emphasising its green credentials with eco-friendly PV modules through what it considers to be the world’s highest efficiency vertical solar value chain, including polysilicon raw material, solar cell, PV module and system projects

AUO is also set to estalish a high-efficiency PV plant in Tianjin, which will be the first PV plant in China acknowledged by U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.

The green facility, with an expected capacity of 1GW, is due to be completed soon with construction and equipment installation expected to be finalised this year.

AUO subsidiary building solar wafer plant

AU Optronics (AUO) has announced that one of its subsidiary companies – ACC – is working to create a solar wafer plant in Taiwan’s Chungkang Export Processing Zone.

The venture, which has been approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), will strengthen AUO’s position in the solar materials market and help push its own technological developments.

AUO hosted a “ground breaking ceremony” to celebrate first-phase construction. The first-phase capacity of multicrystalline ingots and wafers is expected to achieve 300 megawatts (MW), while in the future the company will look at supplies of upstream solar materials to “secure its proprietary R&D and smelting technologies of polysilicon, and offer high-quality and high-efficiency materials to solar cell makers.”

Equipment will be bunged in this August, with mass production planned in the fourth quarter.

ACC’s new plant will also become AUO’s solar business operation centre. There will be around 1,000 job opportunities over the next three years.

The first phase construction of the ACC facility in Chungkang Export Processing Zone is around three hectares, and the total area after expansion will be 8.5 hectares.

Tablet goldrush will not lead to panel shortage

More and more companies are jumping on the tablet PC bandwagon, following the herd in a bid to stay on top of competition. Tablet PC shipments were about 16 million units in 2010, and market sources expect them to increase 3.5-5 fold in 2011.

Bob Raikes an analyst at Meko told TechEye: “I liked the quote I saw from CES, which went, “These companies are like six-year-olds on a soccer team. The ball goes over here, and they all run after it in a blob. Tablet!?? Tablet!? Tablet!?”

AU Optronics has announced that it began shipping a small volume of tablet PC panels in the last quarter of 2010 in preparation for a huge kick. It now claims that it has begun mass volume shipments with touch panel features in the first quarter of 2011.

Paul Peng, executive vice president of AUO, said that the company’s tablet PC panel shipments will focus on providing a complete range of a high-resolution, wide-viewing-angle TFT-LCD panel with an in-house touch feature. AUO’s 4G line has started producing touch sensors, and about half of the capacity at the 4G line will be used for touch sensors. AUO also plans to transform its 5G line for touch panel production in the future.

RIM is putting its foot firmly in the industry, announcing that production of its PlayBook tablet PCs at Quanta’s plant in Taiwan have reached an economic scale of 150,000-200,000 a month with shipments to be ready as early as February.

Bob Raikes reckons the trend won’t be bucked any time soon: “Up to now, most LCDs have either been in the up to 5” category (smartphones and other phones, GPS’s. Digital camera displays and camcorders) or 10″ – 12″ and up – notebooks, monitors and TVs.”

Apple set the bar very high on the iPad by using IPS technology to give good viewing angle performance, which is better than typical notebook or netbook displays, and capacitive touch technology, which was only used in high volume on phone displays.

“To meet the huge demand from everybody that wants to make tablets, LCD makers are having to make sure they have high quality, mid-sized displays with capacitive touch, so there is lots of ‘juggling’ of production and capacity going on,” he added.

He said however, overall, there should not be a shortage. But there may be for particular sizes or technologies.

Talking to TechEye, Ms. Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli, says: “All of the leading LCD panel vendors are engaged in touch panel development, either already producing integrated panels or still in the research stage.

“With media tablets and smartphones shaping up as two of the fastest growing consumer electronic markets over the next few years, panel manufacturers are looking to expand their business opportunities and streamline the manufacturing process by incorporating touch integration into the panel production process. Demand for projected capacitive (PC) touch is expected to outstrip supply in 2011, with independent touch manufacturers best positioned to meet the initial supply needs.

“However, the end-device market (media tablets) is likely to experience some market saturation, with a select group of well-positioned vendors positioned to capitalize on the market opportunity with the right combination of hardware, interface, content, and pricing, while many of the initial offerings end up in the bargain sale bins.”

Sharp goes after AU Optronics, LG, others in patent spat

Another day and another company is getting its knickers in a twist over patents..

This time Sharp has decided to file a lawsuit against Taiwan’s AU Optronics (AUO) and six others including  China’s Haier and LG.  

It claims that the companies have infringed its patented LCD technology and has made two complaints with the US International Trade Commission and District Court for Delaware. Sharp wants the courts to place an order on the companies involved to stop imports and sales in the United States of LCD panels and modules that use the technology at the centre of the dispute.

Sharp also wants AUO to put its hands in its pockets and pay out some compensation. However, it is currently unknown how much it is after.

The court order comes after Sharp and AUO failed to renew a contract at the end of 2010 to license Sharp’s patented LCD technology to AUO.

In Taiwan, AU Optronics issued a brief statement without commenting directly on the Sharp suit: “We respect (a) third party’s intellectual property rights, and we also expect others to respect our intellectual property rights, and we will protect the interest of our company and of our customers,”