Sunday, February 25, 2007


Canon licensed the use of surface-conduction electron-emitter displays (or SED) from Nano-Proprietary Inc., in 1999 for $5.6M. This was the much touted technology that claims to have high end CRT picture performance in a large flat panel display. It is supposed to take flat-screens to the next level. Deep blacks, amazing contrast, realistic colors, and an overall amazing picture on a 55+" screen.

When Canon took on a partner, Toshiba, as a joint venture, Nano-Proprietary saw this as a breach of licensing agreeement and a roundabout way for Canon to sub-license the technology. On December 1st 2006, NPinc. terminated the agreement. On Saturday 24th February 2007 (yesterday), U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin ruled in favor of NPinc. making their termination of the agreement official.

There has been no comment from Canon as yet, but NPinc. have made it clear that they own the technology and the patents, and any manufacturer interested in using the technology will have to license it through them. We don't know how this will turn out. Samsung who manufacture every type of display under the sun, have previously expressed interest in SED technology.

What it comes down to is long term profitability. The claim was that SED would be cheaper to manufacture than LCD and outperform it tenfold. If NPinc. don't structure their licensing to be profitable for manufactuers, sadly we may not see SED surface. This is only a possible outcome, but the effects of this ruling remains to be seen. Of course, I'll keep you posted on any further developments as this is a very big and important blow to HDTV progression as a whole.