US SEMICONDUCTOR GIANT GlobalFoundries has filed lawsuits against Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in the US and Germany, alleging the firm of infringing 16 of its patents.
GlobalFoundries, which last year bowed out of developing 7nm chips due to a "lack of demand", alleges that TSMC infringes its intellectual property in its 7nm, 10nm, 12nm, 16nm, 28nm manufacturing processes. Given these processes are used to make more than half of TSMC's chips, the firm is seeking "significant damages" which reports claim could reach billions of dollars.
The suit - filed in the in US International Trade Commission (ITC), the US Federal District Courts in the Districts of Delaware and the Western District of Texas, and the Regional Courts of Dusseldorf, and Mannheim in Germany - also names several of TSMC's customers, all of which import chips that are built using the processes called out by GlobalFoundries.
Among the big names accused of infringing upon GlobalFoundries' intellectual property are Apple, Asus, Broadcom, Cisco, Google, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Lenovo, and Motorola.
This means, if the courts were to back GlobalFoundries' corner and issue an injunction, Apple's iPhones and iPads, Nvidia GPUs and any smartphone running a Qualcomm SoC made by TSMC could be banned in the US.
"In filing the lawsuits, [GlobalFoundries] seeks orders that will prevent semiconductors produced with the infringing technology by Taiwan-based TSMC, the dominant semiconductor manufacturer, from being imported into the US and Germany," the lawsuit said.
AMD, despite being one of TSMC's clients - specifically for its 7nm Ryzen 3000 CPUs - is not named in the lawsuit and would likely be unaffected by any outcome in favour of GlobalFoundries.
Gregg Bartlett, GlobalFoundries senior vice president of engineering and technology, said: "While semiconductor manufacturing has continued to shift to Asia, GlobalFoundries has bucked the trend by investing heavily in the American and European semiconductor industries, spending more than $15bn dollars in the last decade in the US and more than $6bn in Europe's largest semiconductor manufacturing fabrication facility.
"For years, while we have been devoting billions of dollars to domestic research and development, TSMC has been unlawfully reaping the benefits of our investments. This action is critical to halt Taiwan Semiconductor's unlawful use of our vital assets and to safeguard the American and European manufacturing base."
In a statement given to INQ, TSMC said it is "in the process of reviewing the complaints filed by GlobalFoundries" but is "confident that GlobalFoundries' allegations are baseless."
"As a leading innovator, TSMC invests billions of dollars each year to independently develop its world-class, leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing technologies," it said. "As a result, TSMC has established one of the largest semiconductor portfolios with more than 37,000 patents worldwide and a top 10 ranking for US patent grants for 3 consecutive years since 2016.
"We are disappointed to see a foundry peer resort to meritless lawsuits instead of competing in the marketplace with technology. TSMC is proud of its technology leadership, manufacturing excellence, and unwavering commitment to customers.
"We will fight vigorously, using any and all options, to protect our proprietary technologies." µ
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