GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) today filed multiple lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany alleging that semiconductor manufacturing technologies used by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC) infringe 16 GF patents.
The lawsuits were filed today in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. 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 lawsuits, GF seeks orders that will prevent semiconductors produced with the infringing technology by Taiwan-based TSMC, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, from being imported into the U.S. and Germany. These lawsuits require GF to name certain major customers of TSMC and downstream electronics companies, who, in most cases, are the actual importers of the products that incorporate the infringing TSMC technology. GF also seeks significant damages from TSMC based on TSMC’s "unlawful use of GF’s proprietary technology in its tens of billions of dollars of sales," according to the U.S. company.
The list of defendants also include fabless chip designers Apple, Broadcom, Mediatek, nVidia, Qualcomm and Xilinx Electronic component, distributors Avnet/EBV, Digi-key, Mouser and Arista, ASUS, BLU, Cisco, Google, HiSense, Lenovo, Motorola, TCL, OnePlusGF.
GF targets devices that are powered by TSMC's 7nm, 10nm, 12nm, 16nm , 28nm
chips. The foundry lists specific patents related to chip manufacturing technologies and claims that TSMC as infringed them.
Globalfoundries cited products including Apple iPhone models, AirPods, Apple TV and iPad models. It also mentioned Cisco’s switch boxes as using infringing chips and Lenovo computers that are based on Nvidia graphics chips.
TSMC is the contractor that makes chips designed by companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia that are then used in devices including Apple iPhones, Lenovo laptops and Cisco routers.
“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 $15 billion dollars in the last decade in the U.S. and more than $6 billion 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 GF. “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.”
TSMC 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. 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," TSMC said.
GF has stopped developing advanced chip making technology beyond the 12nm.