GlobalFoundries has filed complaints in several US and German courts against TSMC, arguing that the Taiwanese foundry infringes on a number of its patents and that imports of affected chips produced on behalf of Apple and Qualcomm among others into Germany and the US should be stopped.
Although GlobalFoundries has suspended development of its own 7nm process, the devices that the foundry claims infringe on its IP are made on TSMC processes that range from 28nm down to 7nm. GlobalFoundries has cited 16 patents in the complaints filed on Monday to 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. In filing the cases, the foundry has emphasized its role in those two regions.
In the complaints, the foundry has taken aim at numerous customers of TSMC as well as the distributors used by those fabless chipmakers, such as Avnet, EBV and Mouser. Apple and Qualcomm could be affected by the lawsuits brought in Germany. The US complaints cover a longer list of chipmaker defendants that in addition to Apple and Qualcomm include Broadcom, Mediatek, nVidia, and Xilinx. The foundry is seeking damages based on “tens of billions of dollars of sales”.
“While semiconductor manufacturing has continued to shift to Asia, GF 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 U.S. and more than $6bn in Europe’s largest semiconductor manufacturing fabrication facility. These lawsuits are aimed at protecting those investments and the US and European-based innovation that powers them,” said Gregg Bartlett, senior vice president, engineering and technology at GlobalFoundries. “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.”
The patents used by GlobalFoundries in the lawsuits were filed between 2002 and 2012 and cover a range of techniques including double-patterned memory cells, finFET construction methods and the control of work functions in transistor electrodes.