Samsung Display sells LCD panel patents to TCL-owned CSOT

Mike Wheatley

Samsung Display has reportedly sold hundreds of U.S. patents relating to liquid crystal display technology to the TCL-owned panel maker China Star Optoelectronics Technology.


The patents were transferred to CSOT’s ownership in June, according to a report by The Elec. Simultaneously, the company also transferred hundreds of South Korean LCD patents to the Chinese firm.

In total, The Elec said Samsung Display gave 577 U.S. patents to CSOT, which had previously acquired the South Korean firm’s LCD factory in Suzhou, China, in 2020. Samsung Display is now reported to have sold more than 2,000 LCD technology patents globally, in a move that practically signals the end of its involvement in the business.

Samsung Electronics will retain rights to use all of the patents sold by its subsidiary, the report added.

The move will benefit TCL, which continues to be fully invested in the LCD TV business and has been somewhat vulnerable in the U.S. to patent lawsuits in the past, The Elec said. By acquiring the patents, it can protect itself from future lawsuits. At the same time, it could even use the patents to file lawsuits against its top competitor in the U.S., BOE Technology Group Co.

Industry observers say patent lawsuits are more likely to rear their head because the LCD display making industry has matured to such an extent. LCD panels were in big demand at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now people are going outside again, far fewer people are in the market for a new TV. Consequently, LCD prices have fallen off a cliff and they’re now even cheaper than they were prior to the pandemic, forcing manufacturers to reduce production. So if a patent can be used to stymy the competition, it can be a viable business tactic for CSOT.

While CSOT’s parent company is TCL, Samsung Display also owns a minority stake in the firm, which is a key supplier of LCD panels to Samsung Electronics. Given their close relationship, it makes sense to present a united front, all the more so given the aggressive expansion plans of BOE.