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Matsushita, LG Settle Patent Dispute

TOKYO (AP) _ LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan said Monday they have settled a patent dispute over plasma display panels and agreed instead to enter a patent cross-licensing arrangement.

The cross-licensing agreement will include personal computers and DVD technology as well as plasma displays, the companies said. They declined to provide details.

The two companies had been fighting since last year over patents dealing with plasma displays, with both accusing the other of violations.

Plasma displays are used for large, thin televisions that are rapidly replacing old-style TV sets.

Matsushita filed a lawsuit in Tokyo in November demanding a halt in sales of LG-made plasma displays in Japan, and the court halted imports of such panels.

In turn, LG asked South Korean authorities to investigate alleged patent violations by Matsushita, and South Korea slapped a temporary ban on imports and sales of Matsushita plasma displays.

The companies agreed to throw out their suits in South Korea and Japan.

``LG Electronics and Matsushita welcome an early settlement of the pending disputes,'' they said in a joint statement. ``As a result of the settlement, the companies reconfirmed continued cooperation in other business areas.''

The two companies said they will also explore further collaborations.

The dispute underlines the growing competition in the electronics industry between older Japanese companies and up-and-coming South Korean makers, which can frequently sell products for lower prices. Japanese electronics makers have recently filed a series of patent lawsuits against South Korean companies in an attempt to protect Japan's past domination of consumer electronics.
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