Nanotube Ruling Could Delay SED

Canon's efforts to begin production of a new form of flatscreen HD received a setback in the past week when a federal court ruled that Canon had violated a licensing agreement with Nano-Proprietary, a small firm based in Austin, Texas.

A federal judge in Texas ruled on Feb. 22 that Canon had reportedly violated its agreement with the Austin firm by forming a joint television venture with Toshiba.

Nano-Proprietary had licensed its technology for making carbon nanotubes to Canon nearly eight years ago, before Canon brought in Toshiba as a partner. (Toshiba dropped out of the venture several weeks ago and ceded its control to SED Inc., which belongs to Canon.) Both Canon and Toshiba had hoped to demo their latest SED technology at CES2007 in January and at NAB2007 in mid-April, before the pending legal proceedings ruled that out.

SED is "surface-conduction electron-emitter displays" whereby minute particles detonate electrons onto a screen to produce video images. Technically speaking, SED proponents say the technology can produce sharper resolutions and blacker blacks than either plasma or LCD.

This latest judicial setback does not necessarily preclude Canon from eventually mass-producing SED HD sets.