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LG Seeks Ban On BMW, Audi Sales In Korea

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LG Electronics filed a suit in South Korea, seeking a ban on the sale of BMW and Audi cars, saying they use lighting products made by Siemens unit Osram that infringe its patents.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of patent litigation involving LG Electronics, Samsung LED and Osram. The Siemens lightbulb unit filed suits against the South Korean firms in the United States, Germany and Japan.

The sales injunction request is filed on Wednesday by LG and its component affiliate LG Innotek.

It follows a separate complaint filed with the South Korean trade commission in July to ban imports of LED products from Osram.

"We've decided to expand the legal case to automakers using LED package products made by Osram, as the infringement is increasingly affecting the fast-growing LED industry," LG said in a statement on Wednesday.

Shares in LG closed up 2.5 per cent, compared with a 0.7 per cent fall in the broader market.

Should the request be accepted, BMW, the most popular imported brand in Korea, may face a setback in the country. The world's largest luxury carmaker raised its market share sharply in Korea as Japanese rivals lost ground following the earthquake there in March.

BMW sold 16,579 cars in the first eight months of this year, up 62 per cent from a year ago, and owns 24 per cent of the imported-car market in Korea, according to data by Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

Audi also increased sales by a quarter to 6,668 cars in the first eight months of this year to take 9.6 per cent of the imported-car market.

BMW in South Korea declined to comment. Audi was not immediately available for comment.

LG joined Samsung LED to countersue Osram, after the German firm said in June that it filed lawsuits against the two business groups.

Samsung LED countersued in June, filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Osram Korea and two Korean sales agents of the German company at a Seoul district court.

Osram is the world's No.2 lighting company after Philips, ahead of General Electric Co.

LEDs are semiconductor devices that emit light and boast high energy efficiency, while organic light emitting diodes (OLED) are based on organic compounds and used in a range of products including lighting, automobiles, projectors, mobile phones and TVs.

Osram has claimed Samsung and LG infringed its patents on white and surface-mountable LEDs.

It said it would seek compensation, adding various prominent companies worldwide have taken royalty-bearing licenses on its conversion technology.

LG said on Wednesday products from BMW and Audi infringed seven of its patents relating to LED chips and packaging technologies.