Sun, Jun 17, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Samsung fined for infringing S Korean patent


Samsung Electronics Co has been ordered to pay US$400 million after a federal jury in Texas said it infringed on a patent owned by the licensing arm of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAST), one of South Korea’s top research universities.

Samsung has pledged to appeal.

Qualcomm Inc and GlobalFoundries Inc were also found to have infringed on the patent, but were not told to pay any damages to KAIST IP US, the university’s licensing arm.

The dispute centers on technology known as FinFET, a type of transistor that boosts performance and reduces power consumption for increasingly smaller chips.

KAIST IP US said in its initial complaint that Samsung was dismissive of the FinFET research at first, believing it would be a fad.

That all changed when rival Intel Corp started licensing the invention and developing its own products, KAIST IP said.

Samsung, the world’s largest chipmaker, told the jury that it worked with the university to develop the technology and denied infringing the patent.

It also challenged the validity of the patent.

Samsung’s infringement was found to be “willful,” or intentional, meaning the judge could increase the damage award to as much as three times the amount set by the jury.

The company said it was disappointed by the verdict.

“We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that is reasonable, including an appeal,” Samsung said in a statement.

The technology is key to the production of modern processors used in mobile phones.

GlobalFoundries and Samsung manufacture chips using the technique. Qualcomm, the largest maker of chips used in phones, is a customer of both companies.

The companies put on a joint defense.

The case marked a clash between South Korea’s top research-oriented science and engineering institution and a company that is critical to the country’s economy.

Lawyers for KAIST IP declined to comment on the verdict.

While the institute is in Korea, KAIST IP is based in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, and it filed the suit in Marshall, Texas — a venue considered particularly friendly to patent owners.

Separately, the staff of the US International Trade Commission on Friday recommended that a trade judge find that Apple Inc infringed on at least one of Qualcomm’s patents, a move that could lead to blocking the import of some iPhones.

The San Diego chipmaker filed a complaint against Apple nearly a year ago, asking the commission to ban the import of iPhones containing Intel’s so-called modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks.

At a trial in Washington that started on Friday, the commission’s staff said that Apple violated one of Qualcomm’s patents pertaining to battery-saving technology.

The commission staff acts as a third party in such trade cases. The staff lawyers’ opinions are not binding, but judges often follow them.

In previous filings in the commission’s case, Apple has argued that Qualcomm’s patents are invalid and that, regardless, the judge should not ban Intel-based iPhones because it would give Qualcomm a monopoly on modems in the US and drive Intel out of the modem business.

The commission’s case is the first to go to trial out of more than a dozen legal fights between Apple and Qualcomm over patents, licensing practices and contracts between the two. A decision is expected by January.

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