Canon said here last week that an appeal of a U.S. breach of contract suit over its licensing agreement for Surface conduction electron emitter (SED) technology overturned the revocation of its license to the system by Nano Proprietary (NPI), possibly clearing the way for development of flat-panal displays with a contrast performance equivalent to CRT TV sets, while requiring less power to operate than LCDs or plasma sets.
The ruling in the appeals case found that the contract between Canon and NPI was "perpetual" and "non-revocable," although the decision also upheld the original breach of contract ruling. A May 2007 decision from a U.S. federal district court found that Canon had violated the terms of its licensing agreement for core components of SED with NPI when it entered into a joint venture with Toshiba to manufacture SED sets.
Nano-Proprietary, an American company, has three months to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Original plans were to have Toshiba and Canon jointly produce and sell the SED TVs by the beginning of 2006. But in addition to the patent litigation claims, the technology faced rapidly declining prices on plasma and LCD TVs, while at the same time those technologies were seeing continuous improvements in black level performance and power consumption, taking away some of the edge SED was to have enjoyed.
Initial orders of SED TVs were expected to be significantly more expensive than plasma or LCD TVs.