Corning: Furukawa lodges patent complaint

World number one fiber-optic cable maker Corning is facing a lawsuit from far east rival and world number two Furukawa Electric, alleging misuse of the Japanese company“s intellectual property.
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World number one fiber-optic cable maker Corning is facing a lawsuit from far east rival and world number two Furukawa Electric, alleging misuse of the Japanese company“s intellectual property. It is the latest in a series of patent suits against Corning, which is facing a challenge to its market dominance in Asia from Furukawa.. Corning 8 February confirmed that Corning Cable Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary, received a complaint from Furukawa in Tokyo but said it had not been served any formal papers in the US. The complaint alleged that Corning sold products developed using Furukawa“s patented high-density ribbon cable technology. Corning declined to comment on the dispute or how much Furukawa was seeking in damanges, although initial reports in Tokyo said Furukawa was demanding JPY6.2bn ( USD 52 million). “We hold the protection of our intellectual property and the intellectual property of other companies as a high priority,” Corning said. As part of the complaint, Furukawa is also demanding that Corning stop selling the tape core wire that incorporates the disputed ribbon cable technology. Although lawsuits such as Furukawa“s are still far from common, Japan is becoming more active in preventing foreign rivals, particularly in China, from using Japanese technologies to make cut-price products. The complaint did not provoke concern among Corning stockholders: shares were up 5% at midday on 7 February 2003 as the group reiterated that it was on the way back to profitability later in 2003. Executives said at an annual investor conference that Corning would decide by mid-2003 whether it would abandon the photonics business, a move that would result in a pre-tax charge of USD 20 – 30 million in the first quarter. Corning has been affected by the collapse of the telecommunications sector. It said the benefits of painful balance sheet restructuring in 2002 would bear fruit in 2003.