In the latest dispute over patents between Japanese and South Korean electronics giants, Toshiba has sued Hynix Semiconductor, alleging patent infringement in flash-memory chips, key components in digital cameras and mobile phones.
Tokyo-based Toshiba Corp said yesterday it filed the lawsuits in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas and in Tokyo District Court on Monday, seeking unspecified damages.
Toshiba accused Hynix Semiconductor Inc of violating seven patents in the US, including ones for DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, chips, which are used in personal computers, and three flash-memory patents in Japan.
Toshiba and Hynix entered a licensing agreement in August 1996 that included semiconductor products, Toshiba said. They began negotiating an extension of the agreement ahead of its expiration in December 2002, but failed to agree on a fee, it said.
"Failure to reach a satisfactory conclusion left Toshiba with no alternative other than to pursue legal recourse," the company said in a statement.
Hynix officials in Tokyo and Seoul were not immediately available for comment.
Japanese electronics makers have recently filed a series of lawsuits against South Korean makers, which are challenging their domination of the sector.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, which makes Panasonic products, filed a lawsuit in Tokyo last month against LG Electronics Inc of South Korea, demanding royalties for plasma display panels.
Matsushita also requested Japanese Customs to halt imports of products that allegedly violate its patents.
In Seoul, LG said it is determined to defend its position.
In April, Japanese Customs agreed to temporarily halt imports of plasma displays produced by Samsung SDI Co of South Korea after receiving a complaint from Japanese electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd about possible patent infringements.
The two companies settled in June after filing lawsuits and counter-lawsuits in the US and Japan.
Fujitsu, which has been a pioneer in plasma display technology, had accused Samsung of violating its patents, but Samsung denied any infringement.