The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said on Friday it voted to investigate a patent infringement accusation made by Japan’s top memory chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc against its Taiwanese competitor Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技).
The commission said its chief administrative law judge would assign the case to one of six administrative law judges, who would then schedule an evidentiary hearing on the allegation.
On Nov. 15, Elpida, the world’s third-largest DRAM chipmaker, and its US unit filed a complaint with the commission, naming Nanya Technology and its US subsidiary in the patent infringement.
Nanya Technology, Taiwan’s largest DRAM chipmaker, is an affiliate of industrial conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團).
In the complaint, Elpida requested that the commission issue orders banning the importation and sale of certain semiconductor chips such as DRAM circuitry and modules into the US market.
The Elpida request was based on an alleged violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.
Although hostile to Nanya Technology, Elpida is also partners with other Taiwanese chipmakers, licensing its technologies to Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶科技) and ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技) in exchange for access to their capacities.
The commission said it would set a target date to complete the investigation within 45 days of the probe being started.
The instigation of such a probe in no way implies that the commission has made a decision on the merits of the case, it added.
In addition to the complaint filed with the ITC, Elpida has also filed a lawsuit in Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Court over the same matter.
Late last month, Nanya Technology responded to Elpida’s suit by filing a case with the commission accusing the Japanese company of infringing its patents.
In September, Elpida sued Nanya Technology and its US subsidiary in a district court in California for patent infringement, starting the ongoing legal battle between the two companies.
Separately, HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s No. 4 smartphone maker, said a court in Germany had temporarily banned IPCom GmbH & Co from threatening retailers of HTC products with legal action if they sold HTC phones.
“The District Court of Dusseldorf granted HTC a preliminary injunction prohibiting the German licensing company, IPCom, from sending misleading warning letters threatening legal action against German retailers of HTC products,” HTC said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
Earlier this month, IPCom asked top German cellphone retailers to stop selling HTC phones, threatening them with legal action, because HTC has not yet complied with a court injunction on its sales.
HTC said the injunction covers only one HTC handset which is no longer sold in Germany.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg