TSMC, the world’s leader in semiconductor manufacturing, filed multiple lawsuits on September 30, 2019 against GlobalFoundries in the United States, Germany and Singapore claiming ongoing infringement of 25 TSMC patents by at least its 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes.
In the complaints, TSMC demands injunctions to stop GlobalFoundries’ manufacture and sale of infringing semiconductor products. TSMC also seeks substantial monetary damages from GlobalFoundries for "its sale of infringing semiconductor products and unlawful use of TSMC’s patented semiconductor technologies."
The 25 TSMC patents in the complaints relate to a diverse set of technologies, including FinFET designs, shallow trench isolation techniques, double patterning methods, advanced seal rings and gate structures, and innovative contact etch stop layer designs. These specific technologies cover the core features of mature and advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes. The patents at issue comprise just a small portion of TSMC’s portfolio that numbers more than 37,000 granted patents worldwide.
“TSMC’s patents reflect decades and tens of billions of dollars of investments in innovation, resulting in TSMC’s significant contribution to advancements in semiconductor manufacturing technology,” said Sylvia Fang, Vice President and General Counsel for TSMC. “TSMC’s lawsuits seek to protect our reputation, our significant investments, our nearly 500 customers, and consumers worldwide to ensure everyone benefits from the most advanced semiconductor technologies that enable a wide range of applications such as mobile, 5G, AI, IoT and high performance computing, which are critically important to the public interest.”
“TSMC has long used its dominant market position to exert pressure on its smaller competitors, and the retaliatory litigation filed today is in keeping with that history. We have confidence in our position and the legal process, and we are not intimidated by these actions,” said Sam Azar, senior vice president of corporate development, legal and government affairs for GF.
In August, GlobalFoundries filed multiple lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany alleging that semiconductor manufacturing technologies used by TSMC infringe 16 GF patents.
TSMC had said that the original Global Foundries claims were “baseless,” but that hasn’t stopped it from fighting back.
GF was originally going to bypass the 10nm node and hop straight to 7nm, but at the end of August it announced it was suspending development on 7nm technology.