TSMC countersues GlobalFoundries for infringement of 25 patents

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 01 2019 @ 10:15 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Just over a month ago, GlobalFoundries stunned the industry by suing TSMC and its clients for infringing on 16 patents. Analysts were puzzled by GlobalFoundries' decision to sue not just TSMC but also its customers and distributors, calling it a technique to put pressure on TSMC to settle this quickly.

Now TSMC launches its response by filing lawsuits against GlobalFoundries in the US, Germany, and Singapore. The Taiwanese foundry alleges that GlobalFoundries infringes 25 patents by at least its 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes.
TSMC, the world’s leading global innovator in semiconductor manufacturing, filed multiple lawsuits on September 30, 2019 against GlobalFoundries in the United States, Germany and Singapore for its ongoing infringement of 25 TSMC patents by at least its 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes. In the complaints, TSMC demands injunctions to stop GlobalFoundries’ manufacture and sale of infringing semiconductor products. TSMC also seeks substantial monetary damages from GlobalFoundries for its sale of infringing semiconductor products and unlawful use of TSMC’s patented semiconductor technologies.

The 25 TSMC patents in the complaints relate to a diverse set of technologies, including FinFET designs, shallow trench isolation techniques, double patterning methods, advanced seal rings and gate structures, and innovative contact etch stop layer designs. These specific technologies cover the core features of mature and advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes. The patents at issue comprise just a small portion of TSMC’s extensive portfolio that numbers more than 37,000 granted patents worldwide. TSMC was ranked one of the top 10 companies for U.S. patent grants last year, for the third consecutive year.

TSMC pioneered the dedicated semiconductor foundry model, enabling an entire fabless IC design industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States. Furthermore, TSMC plays a critical role in facilitating the global semiconductor supply chain. For example, TSMC collaborates with dozens of U.S.-based equipment suppliers, intellectual property (IP) core providers and electronic design automation (EDA) vendors. TSMC procured about US$20 billion in equipment and services from U.S. suppliers over the past 5 years. TSMC also spurs the next generation of semiconductor technology by working closely with U.S.-based customers, suppliers and prestigious universities. TSMC subsidiaries operate a manufacturing site in Washington State along with offices in California and Texas with over a thousand employees.

“TSMC’s patents reflect decades and tens of billions of dollars of investments in innovation, resulting in TSMC’s significant contribution to advancements in semiconductor manufacturing technology,” said Sylvia Fang, Vice President and General Counsel for TSMC. “TSMC’s lawsuits seek to protect our reputation, our significant investments, our nearly 500 customers, and consumers worldwide to ensure everyone benefits from the most advanced semiconductor technologies that enable a wide range of applications such as mobile, 5G, AI, IoT and high performance computing, which are critically important to the public interest.”
GlobalFoundries issued the following response to the countersuit:
"TSMC has long used its dominant market position to exert pressure on its smaller competitors, and the retaliatory litigation filed today is in keeping with that history. We have confidence in our position and the legal process, and we are not intimidated by these actions."
TSMC is the leader in the semiconductor foundry market, the company is the largest and most successful player.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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