Spansion, a developer and manufacturer of flash memory and technologies, on Monday said it is filing two separate patent infringement complaints against Samsung Electronics with the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court in Delaware. The company accuses Samsung of patent infringement and seeks to ban sales of its products as well as products by various customers of Samsung.
"Samsung's infringement of our intellectual property not only harms Spansion, but it threatens the foundation of technology innovation," said Dr. Boaz Eitan, executive vice president of Spansion and chief executive officer of Saifun, a company Spansion acquired earlier this year.
In one of the largest patent infringement claims ever filed, Spansion is seeking the exclusion from the U.S. market of well over one hundred million mp3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and other consumer electronic devices containing Samsung's infringing flash memory components. The complaint in the US District Court in Delaware also seeks an injunction and treble damages for patent violations relating to Samsung Flash memory, that Spansion estimates has accounted for more than $30 billion in Samsung's global revenues since 2003.
The Spansion patents named in these law suits are fundamental to floating gate technology, which is the foundation for approximately 90% of the Flash memory market. Spansion is also leading the industry with MirrorBit, a charge-trapping technology, which represents a growing share of the Flash memory market and is expected to replace floating gate technology in the future. Flash memory companies including Samsung have publicly announced their plans to transition to charge-trapping type technologies for their future generation products.
The acquisition of Saifun Semiconductor earlier this year expanded Spansion's IP portfolio and was a key milestone in Spansion's strategy to create a major licensing business, and generate new streams of significant revenue with very high margins.
Although Samsung is the target of the litigations, Spansion is required to name the manufacturers of downstream products containing Samsung's infringing devices in its ITC complaint. Companies named in the ITC case include: Samsung, Apple, Asus, Kingston, Lenovo, PNY, RIM, Sony, Sony-Ericsson, Transcend, some of their subsidiaries and third party manufacturing companies.
"Spansion has patents that are fundamental to Flash memory. Samsung itself has cited these patents many times in its own patent filings, underscoring industry acceptance of the fundamental nature of Spansion's IP. Spansion will vigorously protect its intellectual property and is entitled to be compensated by Samsung for its use of our IP," said Robert Melendres, executive vice president and general counsel for Spansion.
Flash memory, which retains data in devices when the power is turned off, is found in virtually all electronic devices and is one of the largest segments of the semiconductor industry, with nearly $130 billion in total revenues since 2000.