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LG sues Hitachi over plasma display patents

South Korea's LG Electronics has sued Hitachi, saying Japan's top electronics conglomerate violated seven of its plasma display-related patents, the latest in a string of legal spats over flat-TV related technology.

LG, the world's second-biggest plasma display maker after Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial, filed the suit with a U.S. district court in Texas, seeking monetary compensation and a halt to sales of Hitachi displays, LG said in a statement on Monday.

The action, which comes two months after Hitachi sued LG Electronics in the United States over display patents, comes as both Hitachi and LG struggle to restructure their loss-making plasma display panel businesses after losing out in a price war with makers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.

LG's countersuit names Hitachi America and Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display, a Hitachi unit 4.6 percent owned by electronics maker Fujitsu.

A spokeswoman at LG Electronics declined to comment on how much the firm was seeking in compensation.

"Japanese firms are filing more and more lawsuits as competition in the global display market has increased dramatically. We will proactively deal with the situation based on our patented and patent-applied-for technologies," LG said in a statement. Hitachi spokesman Masatoshi Terashi said he could not comment, adding the company has not received a copy of the suit.

Plasma panels have lost ground to rival LCD makers, which have rolled out bigger and cheaper displays, causing plasma panel revenues to drop 28 percent from the prior year to $1.3 billion in January-March, according to DisplaySearch.

LG said in May it would halt the smallest of its three domestic plasma panel lines and was reviewing several strategic options, fanning speculation it might sell the plasma unit.

Fierce competition over flat TV technology also prompted Japan's Sharp to sue Taiwan's HannStar Display earlier this month, claiming the LCD maker had violated Sharp's LCD patents used in flat TVs.

Hitachi shares closed up 0.1 percent at 903 yen ($7.43), while LG shares closed down 0.9 percent at 79,000 won ($84.81).