Sony Faces U.S. Scrutiny Over Blu-Ray

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it would launch an investigation into some 30 companies including Sony (NYSE: SNE) on possible patent infringements related to Blu-ray disc players and other products.

The commission said on its Web site on Thursday that the products involved are short-wavelength light-emitting diodes and laser diodes used in such electronics as handheld mobile devices, traffic lights and high-definition DVD players.

The move is based on a complaint filed in February by Columbia University Professor Emeritus Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, who is seeking to block imports into the United States of a range of products that she said were infringing her patent.

Besides Sony, companies cited in the ITC announcement include Nokia, Motorola (NASDAQ: MOT), LG Electronics, and Panasonic maker Matsushita Electric Industrial.

A Sony spokesman said the consumer electronics maker could not as the investigation is ongoing.

The Blu-ray format has competed for several years with HD DVD — a rivalry that divided Hollywood studios, retailers and hardware manufacturers.

While HD DVD devices and discs continue to be sold, industry watchers say the two formats’ competition is drawing to an end, following an early January decision by Warner Bros. to sell Blu-Ray titles exclusively, tipping the balance of power in favor of the Blu-ray camp.

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