LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Swiss company claims 10 "titans of the consumer electronics industry" conspired to keep off the U.S. market a new ecologically friendly DVD format whose production process emits less than half the carbon dioxide of standard discs. The federal antitrust complaint claims the DVD Forum controls the market by threatening the licensing agreements of more than 400 manufacturers.
Ecodisc Technology sued the DVD Format/Logo Licensing Corp. and the DVD Forum, both based in Tokyo.
Ecodisc claims the entities - the only two named defendants - control more than 400 manufacturers with threats to their licensing agreements for use of the standard 1.2 mm disc format and the DVD logo.
It says that the defendants are under an injunction in Europe not to cancel contracts with European replicators who work with the Ecodisc or similar products.
The DVD Consortium was founded in 1995 and changed its name to the DVD Forum in 1997, the complaint states. Its founding 10 members were Toshiba, Thomson, Sony, Pioneer, Koninklikje Phillips, Mitsubishi, Matsushita nka Panasonic, Time Warner, Victor Co. of Japan, and Hitachi.
Ecodisc claims the Forum is blocking introduction of its "thinner, lighter, more flexible DVD," which is nontoxic, recyclable and results in 52 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than the standard format.
It claims the defendants "have effectively threatened all disc replicators that if they make the new environmentally friendly DVD they may no longer be permitted to make standard DVDs and use the DVD logo."
Ecodisc says it does not use the DVD logo nor any of the forum's standards. Yet this year, it says, the Forum sent a "threat" to all replicators prohibiting them from manufacturing the new 0.6 mm discs, claiming that Ecodisc was "imperfectly and inappropriately using the format."
Ecodisc says this violates the Forum's own antitrust guidelines against issuing a "call to action" to the membership, among other things.
Ecodisc says the defendants have posted false information on their Web sites, claiming that the new disc cannot be run on existing players and that it damages them.
Ecodisc says a third-party tester gave its disc a 99.2 percent playability rating on 132 players.
The defendants sued a New York-based replicator who agreed to work with Ecodisc this year, according to the complaint. Though the case was dismissed, the defendants sent a copy of the complaint to all of their licensed replicators, Ecodisc says. It claims it had to cancel its U.S. marketing campaign, lost key U.S. staff, and now can't find any replicators willing to manufacture the 0.6 mm disc.
The company seeks an injunction, corrective information posted on the defendants' Web sites, and punitive damages for false advertising, tortious interference, trade libel and unfair business practices.
Ecodisc is represented by Jeffery Daar with Daar & Newman.