Samsung Display has transferred its U.S. patents on liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies to China-based display panel manufacturer China Star Opto-electronics Technologies (CSOT), a company owned by TCL, according to reports from South Korea.

The U.S. patent transfer, which occurred in June, preceded Samsung’s transfer of South Korean LCD patents to CSOT last month, Korean electronics trade news site The Elec reported.

Samsung Display has an equity stake in CSOT, which continues to supply Samsung Electronics and other manufacturers including TCL with LCD display panels for TVs and other products.

Samsung Display ended its own in-house production of LCD panels in June, as declining profits in the older technology forced the company to shift its resources toward new display panel technologies including QD-OLED and Micro LED direct view panels.

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The report said a total of 577 U.S. patents were turned over to CSOT, and are believed to have been part of the deal made in the sale of Samsung Display’s LCD factory in Suzhou, China to TCL in 2020.

The Elec said it is likely Samsung Display has now transferred all of its LCD patents from around the world, with the most recent transfers signaling the effective end of Samsung Display’s LCD business.

The CSOT LCD panel business was said to have been particularly vulnerable to patent lawsuits in the U.S., due to the company’s lack of LCD patents.

The report cited sources as wondering if the current market slowdown will lead to CSOT using the transferred patents to bring patent lawsuits against rival display panel maker BOE Technology, which is based in Beijing and is one of the world’s largest LCD suppliers.

The LCD panel industry is currently under heavy profit pressure due to declining LCD panel prices following the unnaturally high demand for TVs created during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and the threat of global recessionary conditions.

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By Greg Tarr

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