TSMC countersues GlobalFoundries over chipmaking patent infringement

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TSMC countersued GlobalFoundries for patent infrongement on 25 chipmaking patents after GlobalFoundries sued in August.(FiercePharma)

TSMC struck back at GlobalFoundries by filing multiple lawsuits in the U.S., Germany and Singapore this week alleging ongoing infringement of 25 TSMC patents related to its chipmaking processes.

TSMC is asking courts for injunctions to stop GlobalFoundries from making and selling semiconductors that are based on the alleged infringements and “substantial monetary damages.”

TSMC filed its lawsuits on Monday just over a month after GlobalFoundries sued TSMC and 19 of its customers (including Apple and Google) for allegedly infringing 16 patents and seeking to stop imports into the U.S. and Germany of the products made with technologies from those patents.

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RELATED: GlobalFoundries sues TSMC, Apple, Google and 17 others for patent infringement

The legal fight pits two large chipmakers against each other. TSMC, based in Taiwan, makes about 25% of its revenue from chips produced for Apple products, including iPhones

Analysts said it appears to be a classic struggle over patent infringement in the tech community that can take years to resolve. The most likely outcome could be a “broad cross-licensing agreement” to guard against future such lawsuits between the two chipmakers, Jim McGregor, an analyst at Tirias Research told EE Times.

In a statement, TSMC said the patents in its complaints against GlobalFoundries relate to various technologies including FinFET designs, shallow trench isolation techniques, double patterning methods, advanced ring seals and gate structures and contact etch stop layer designs. The company said it has 37,000 patents granted globally and was one of the top 10 companies granted patents in the U.S. last year, for the third consecutive year.

TSMC also sought to defend itself as critical to the pioneering of the fabless IC design industry valued at hundreds of billions of dollars in the U.S. The company also noted it has bought $20 billion in equipment and services from U.S. suppliers over the past five years and operates a manufacturing plant in Washington and has offices in California and Texas with more than a thousand employees.

The lawsuits are meant to “protect our reputation, our significant investments, our nearly 500 customers and consumers worldwide,” said Sylvia Fang, general counsel for TSMC.

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