Semiconductor manufacturer wants infringing products banned. GLOBALFOUNDRIES vs. TSMC

Semiconductor manufacturer wants infringing products banned. GLOBALFOUNDRIES vs. TSMC

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted to the inventor of an invention.  To gain patent protection for an invention in the United States and inventor must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  To be granted protection, a patent application must demonstrate that the invention is new, useful and not obvious.  A patent grants its owner the exclusive right to make, use, sell, and import the invention within the United States.  If someone other than the patent owner attempts to exercise one of these exclusive rights that can be considered patent infringement.  A patent owner can file a lawsuit to stop patent infringement with an injunction and get damages for patent infringement which has occurred.

A patent is granted by a government and is only enforceable within the territory of that government.  With the rise of global trade frequently patented components are manufactured in one country and imported into another country.  United States Federal Courts respect the sovereign power of other nations and will not entertain a case which involves a foreign defendant with no connection the the court hearing the case.  This concept is known as personal jurisdiction.  If a plaintiff brings a lawsuit in a court that does not have personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant can request the court dismiss the case.

Patent infringement cases that involve infringement by importation often require the plaintiff to name both the foreign manufacturer that is making the infringing devices and the domestic customers of that manufacturer.  Otherwise the plaintiff risks having the case dismissed completely.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES U.S. INC. v. TSMC LTD., 6:19-cv-00491 (W.D.TX 2019) illustrates a case where both the foreign manufacturer of a product and domestic customers of a product are named in a patent infringement case.  The plaintiff in this case is a manufacturer of semiconductors.  The plaintiff originated in 2009 and then acquired the semiconductor manufacturing assets of IBM in 2015 along with over 16,000 patents related to semiconductor manufacturing.  Several of the plaintiff’s patents relate to methods of making Fin Field Effect Transistors

The defendant TSMC is a manufacturer of semiconductors that operates outside the United States.  Broadcom and Arista are customers of TSMC that operate within the United States.  The products sold by Broadcom and Arista feature Fin Field Effect Transistor components manufactured by TSMC.

The plaintiff filed a complaint for patent infringement against the defendants in August 2019.  The complaint alleges that the defendants sold or imported in the United States semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, and
products containing the same that infringe, or were manufactured using processes that infringe, the patents owned by the plaintiff.  The plaintiff requests an injunction against the defendants preventing them from selling or importing infringing products in the United States and monetary damages which could add up to millions of dollars. The defendant has responded in a press release saying that the allegations made by the plaintiff are baseless, but has not responded in court yet.

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