A lawsuit filed today by GlobalFoundries accuses the world’s largest independent chipmaker, TSMC, for violating 16 of its patents. The lawsuits have been filed in various places, including the US International Trade Commission (ITC). The US federal district courts in the districts of Delaware and the western district of Texas. And the regional courts of Düsseldorf and Mannheim in Germany. GlobalFoundries is asking for monetary damages and a court order that prevents the importation of devices that violate their patents. The ITC generally announces within one month of receiving a complaint if it will conduct an investigation. A final decision to declare within 15 months.
TSMC could lead to U.S. import ban against iOS and Android devices
The 20 defendants include technology companies that design their own chips. But do not have the facilities to manufacture them. This includes Apple, Broadcom, Mediatek, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Xilinx. Consumer products manufacturers demanded include Arista, Asus, BLU, Cisco, Google, HiSense, Lenovo, Motorola, TCL and OnePlus. If the courts issue the court order requested by GlobalFoundries, it is possible that products such as Apple iPhone and Apple iPad. And Android devices that use Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets will be banned from entering the US. Starting last year, TSMC stated that it “manufacturing 10,436 different products using 261 distinct technologies for 481 different customers.”
The ITC could prevent the import of iPhones, iPads and some Android devices from Apple into the US
The patents cited by GlobalFoundries in the lawsuit put forward some technologies used in chip production. The case claims that the process nodes of TSMC from 7 nm, 10 nm, 12 nm, 16 nm. And 28 nm use unlicensed intellectual property belonging to the complainant. These chips provide TSMC with over 50% of its annual revenue, meaning that GlobalFoundries’ damages could be billions of dollars. 13 of the patents come from the US, while the remaining three are from Germany. The headquarter of GlobalFoundreies is in California but its owner is Mubadala Investment Co., an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government. He claims to have spent $15 billion in the US and $6 billion in Europe over the past 10 years.
“While semiconductor manufacturing has continued to shift to Asia, GlobalFoundries (GF) has bucked the trend by investing heavily in the American and European semiconductor industries, spending more than $15 billion dollars in the last decade in the U.S. and more than $6 billion in Europe’s largest semiconductor manufacturing fabrication facility. These lawsuits are aimed at protecting those investments and the US and European-based innovation that powers them. For years, while we have been devoting billions of dollars to domestic research and development, TSMC has been unlawfully reaping the benefits of our investments. This action is critical to halt Taiwan Semiconductor’s unlawful use of our vital assets and to safeguard the American and European manufacturing base.”-Gregg Bartlett, SVP of engineering and technology, GlobalFoundries
ITC To block the US Imports
The ITC can block the import of products into the US that violates US patents. An import ban could cause a lot of damage to companies like Apple and Android device manufacturers. Patrick Moorhead, president of the analysis and consulting company Moor Insights & Strategy, says the company has persecuted producers like Apple because they need faster chips than the ones GlobalFoundries can produce.
“You can bet GlobalFoundries was trying to collect royalties behind the scenes, failed, and will now let the courts decide. The end [manufacturers] aren’t the main target, but targeted to put pressure on TSMC.” – Moorhead
In recent years, GlobalFoundries has focused on cheaper, less advanced but still profitable chips. In the first quarter of this year, the company had an 8.4% market share for contract chip production, compared to 48.1% for TSMC and 19.1% for Samsung.
(Via: The Wall Street Journal)