05 May WARF sues Samsung over computer chip technology license agreement
MADISON – The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is suing Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips, for allegedly using a patented technology developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty without a license for use in their semiconductors.
According to Andy Cohn, spokesman for WARF, the technology at the heart of the Samsung lawsuit is the same as previous legal actions against Sony and Toshiba. The contested technology is designed to prevent conductive metals from leaching into the silicon used to make computer chips and was developed by UW Chancellor John Wiley and engineering professor John H. Perepezko.
Sony and Toshiba allegedly used the computer chip technology in PlayStation 2 game stations. The suit was settled in February.
In addition, WARF recently sought compensation from Infineon Technologies AG, a computer chip company based in Munich, Germany, for its use of the UW technology. Infineon consequently filed a lawsuit to prevent the university from collecting royalties on the same patent for a process used in making semiconductors.
WARF, which licenses the university’s patents, sought royalties at a meeting with Infineon in February, according to the suit filed in federal court in San Diego. Infineon rejected the terms, and is asking for a court ruling that its products don’t infringe the patent.
“There are a whole bunch of companies using this technology, and most sign license agreements. What you are seeing now are companies infringing [on patents] and we’re taking action,” Cohn said.
The lawsuit was filed after discussions between Samsung and WARF
failed to yield an agreement to license the technology.
“Negotiations broke down — there was no alternative but to take it to a judge,” Cohn said.
According to a story that appeared in Asia Times, Samsung Electronics denied using the technology illegally.
“We didn’t infringe the patent owned by the University of Wisconsin. We will take an appropriate step to cope with the suit,” said a Samsung Electronics official.
Cohen denied the recent series of patent-related lawsuits as indicative of a trend within WARF.
“[WARF] doesn’t do this a lot because most people comply. When they don’t, legal action is an arrow in our quiver,” Cohn said. “The message is that WARF is serious about protecting its patents and its inventors.”
Kristin V. Johnson is a Madison-based writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.