Will Osram loss affect BMW sales?
By Kim Tae-gyu
Will some sedans by Audi and BMW cease here this year due to pending disputes between LED lamp manufacturers LG Innotek and Osram.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) said Thursday that it had ruled in favor of LG Innotek in a patent row raised by Osram, which claimed the Korean company violated its property rights.
``Osram filed a complaint last July that LG Innotek infringed on a total of four patents on LED lamps and we have looked into the case over the past several months,’’ MKE official Kim Jung-young said.
``Based on in-depth investigations and after consulting experts, we concluded that LG Innotek did not do anything wrong.’’
At issue is the decision by the MKE regarding LG Innotek’s complaint in September, approximately two months after Osram made its case that the latter firm breached its patents.
In particular, LG took issue with the LED chips and packaging for cars currently used for some vehicles sold by German carmakers of Audi and BMW in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
If the MKE rules against German-based Osram, some models of Audi and BMW using its LED headlamps are expected to be banned after a grace period.
In addition, Osram might face fines up to a maximum of 30 percent of sales of the concerned items.
The MKE contends that this week’s decision has little to do with the one it will make next month but market observers think they might be connected to some extent.
Should LG win, it would make put a large dent in the sales of BMW and Audi, which have chalked up great success in Korea.
Along with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, the two carmakers have made their presence felt in Korea, the country where domestic companies Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors have long dominated.
In particular, BMW is estimated to have nudged past traditional powerhouses such as Renault Samsung and GM Korea in terms of revenue during the first three months of this year.
They are expected to see rapid growth down the road because young motorists like the German models.
When contacted, BMW said that they have no data on how many of its models use LED headlamps provided by Osram. Comments from Audi were also unavailable.