Toshiba won't launch flat-panel TVs based on SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) screens this year after all.

The Tokyo company is postponing the planned 4th quarter launch because panel-maker Canon won't be able to supply the screens, Toshiba said today in a brief statement. Toshiba had originally planned a limited launch this year and wider availability of the sets in 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympics.

SED has been under development by the two companies for some years. Compared to competing flat-panel display technologies like LCD (liquid crystal display) and PDP (plasma display panel) it offers richer colours, faster response and a generally better picture quality but its launch has been dogged by technical problems and more recently legal problems.

Canon blamed the delay on an ongoing lawsuit in the US and efforts to establish more cost-effort mass production techniques.

The lawsuit, between Canon and Texas-based Nano Proprietary, was sparked when Canon and Toshiba formed a joint venture, SED Inc., to develop and produce SED screens.

Canon owns 50 percent of the company plus one share, which makes it a subsidiary according to Canon, but Nano Proprietary argues that Toshiba retains decision making power and so the venture isn't a subsidiary and thus isn't covered by a patent licensing agreement between the Texas company and Canon.

The first round of the lawsuit ended earlier this month with Nano Proprietary's claims of fraud dismissed. However a breach of contract claim was upheld and based on that decision the company cancelled its agreement with Canon, which filed an appeal on Tuesday to overturn the breach of contract decision.

Neither Canon nor Toshiba provided any indication as to when it might be possible to commercialize SED technology.