Fri, Oct 10, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Sapphire crystal firm sues Apple for infringement

PATENT PUNCH:Tera Xtal Technology Corp filed a suit against the iPhone maker and two domestic vendors without ruling out more suits in the future

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Local sapphire crystal maker Tera Xtal Technology Corp (鑫晶鑽) yesterday said it has filed patent infringement lawsuits in Taiwan against Apple Inc to safeguard its interests.

Apple has illegally used Tera Xtal’s patented technology to incorporate sapphire into camera lenses used in its iPhone series, company spokesperson Peggy Hsu (許雅玲) said by telephone.

The company also sued local handset retailer Senao International Co (神腦國際) and Vibo Telecom Inc (威寶電信) because they sell iPhones domestically, she said.

“Tera Xtal wants to protect its intellectual property rights and safeguard its investors’ interests. Tera has invested heavily on the sapphire technology,” Hsu said.

“Targeting the company with the biggest sales volume is just our first step,” she said, implying that the company may wage more legal battles against global brands such as Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Co.

In the lawsuits filed with the Intellectual Property Court in New Taipei City, Tera Xtal demands that the named companies stop making, selling and importing products containing the “problematic components,” according to the company’s filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

Tera Xtal also seeks patent infringement damages of NT$300 million (US$9.88 million), according to the filing.

Tera Xtal will not rule out filing infringement lawsuits overseas against Apple, Hsu said.

As legal wrangling has become a tool to form technology partnerships and to initiate supply contracts, Hsu said the company hopes “to apply this innovative [sapphire substrate] technology to more mobile devices by licensing patents or supplying products.”

In a separate filing, Tera Xtal said it has received a US court ruling that its sapphire crystal equipment supplier, GT Advanced Technologies, has to return US$24.29 million Tera Xtal paid for a machine it ordered, because the machine is flawed.

GT Advanced Technologies filed for bankruptcy protection in a US court in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Monday.

“We believe we can recover that payment,” Hsu said.

GT Advanced Technologies has paid back US$7 million and is to pay the remaining US$17.29 million, she said.

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