GlobalFoundries sues TSMC, Apple, Google and 17 others over patents

Patents on file
GlobalFoundries filed a massive slate of patent infringement lawsuits against TSMC and 19 other companies in five courts in the U.S. and Germany. (Shutterstock)

GlobalFoundries on Monday filed 25 patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany against Taiwan-based TSMC and 19 co-defendants including Apple, Google, Broadcom and Cisco.

GF, a specialty semiconductor foundry based in Santa Clara, California, is seeking damages as well as injunctions to prevent imports of TSMC chips that allegedly include the GF patented technology used in TSMC’s advanced 7nm to 28nm chips and manufacturing methods.

On Tuesday, TSMC reacted to the filings, issuing a statement calling GF’s allegations “baseless.” 

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“We are disappointed to see a foundry peer resort to meritless lawsuits instead of competing in the marketplace with technology. We will fight vigorously, using any and all options, to protect our proprietary technologies,” TSMC added. Founded in 1987, TSMC holds more than 37,000 patents globally.

The GF lawsuits seek “significant” but unspecified damages from TSMC based on GF’s claims of TSMC’s unlawful use of GF’s proprietary technology to help reap billions of dollars of sales. The lawsuits include the 19 co-defendants who import the TSMC chips. Defendants in the fabless chip design sector and components distribution channels are Apple, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Xilinx, MediaTek, Nvidia, Avnet/EBV, Digi-key and Mouser.

Defendants in the consumer product area are: Arista, ASUS, BLU, Cisco, Google, HiSense, Lenovo, Motorola, TCL and OnePlus.

GF outlined 16 patents that have been infringed upon that relate to advanced semiconductor devices and methods of manufacturing the devices. Thirteen are U.S. patents and three are German patents. The allegations of infringement cover five TSCM technologies for 7nm, 10nm, 12nm, 16nm and 28nm fabrication designs.

GF said it is filing the suits to protect its assets, IP and investments of $15 billion in the last 10 years in the U.S. and more than $6 billion in Europe. TSMC has received tens of billions of dollars in sales partly by using GF’s proprietary technology, the company said in a statement.

“While semiconductor manufacturing has continued to shift to Asia, GF has bucked the trend by investing heavily in the American [and] European semiconductor industries,” said Gregg Bartlett, senior vice president of engineering and technology at GF. “These lawsuits are aimed at protecting those investments and the U.S. and European-based innovation that powers them.”

Bartlett added, “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 Semiconductors’ unlawful use of our vital assets and to safeguard the American and European manufacturing base.”

The 25 lawsuits were filed in two regional courts in Germany as well as the U.S. District Courts for the western district of Texas and the district of Delaware and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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