TSMC Hits GlobalFoundries With Patent Infringement Lawsuit

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Dust up between chipmakers turns into full scale brawl after TSMC files counter lawsuit against Globalfoundries

A legal dispute between Taiwan-based TSMC and US-based GlobalFoundries has erupted into full scale legal war.

Santa-Clara-based GlobalFoundries had slapped TSMC in August with lawsuits in the US and Germany, alleging that it had infringed its intellectual property for its 7nm, 10nm, 12nm, 16nm, 28nm manufacturing processes. It sought for ‘significant damages’ for the alleged infringements.

But TSMC has now hit back and filed multiple lawsuits against GlobalFoundries in the US, Germany and Singapore for its alleged “ongoing infringement” of 25 patents related to its 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes.

Counter lawsuit

TSMC has demanded injunctions to stop GlobalFoundries’ manufacture and sale of infringing semiconductor products.

TSMC also said it was seeking “substantial monetary damages from GlobalFoundries”.

The 25 TSMC patents alleged to be have been infringed cover a wide range of technologies but include “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,” said TSMC. “The patents at issue comprise just a small portion of TSMC’s extensive portfolio that numbers more than 37,000 granted patents worldwide.”

“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, VP 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,” Fang added.

GlobalFoundries is a contract chip maker that grew into one of the world’s second-largest semiconductor manufacturer, after it spun out of AMD’s former microprocessor business back in 2009.

It competes directly with Taiwan-based TSMC, the largest independent semiconductor foundry.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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