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Tech Giants Including Samsung Sued by KAIST Over Infringement of FinFET Technology

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Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm and Global Foundries are being sued in the Federal Court of Texas by the US-based Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) for usage of their FinFet technologies without any permit.

Qualcomm had recently announced that its Snapdragon 835 processor will be produced using Samsung’s advanced 10nm FinFET technology. Both the companies made an announcement by conducting an event and giving out press releases.

The incident happened when Samsung invited FinFet developer and one of the partners of KAIST, Lee Jong-ho, to show Samsung engineers how the FinFET process works.

KAIST IP said, “Samsung Electronics could save time and costs to develop the technologies by duplicating Lee’s invention without paying royalties. It continued to expropriate Lee’s achievements without consideration of his rights or proper compensation.

Samsung is known to use the FinFet technology on most of its phone models including the Galaxy series. “We proposed a contract when we developed FinFet but Samsung did not accept it. Though it started to make mobile phones using FinFet it resisted paying patent fees,” said KAIST IP. Due to this lawsuit, there might also be a delay in the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phone.

Additionally, in 2014 Global Foundries also collaborated with Samsung to manufacture semiconductor chips based on FinFET. Thus, KAIST has also named Global Foundries in the lawsuit for infringing its technology.

The FinFET technology is already lawfully used by many companies including Intel Corporation. In 2011 Intel applied the FinFet technology to its products and in 2012 acknowledged its use of the  technology  and signed an official license contract with KAIST.

Based on data analyses from MaxVal’s Litigation Databank, we see that the judgements awarded in past by the Judge Rodney Gilstrap favours both the plaintiff and the defendants, depending upon the nature of suit and allegations.

Facts about EDTX Judge Rodney Gilstrap since 2010:

No. of cases handled 4,703
No. of cases given judgment based on merits 31
No. of cases in which plaintiffs won 15
No. of cases in which defendants won 16

Case details:

Type

Names

Case Number 2:16-cv-01314
Court Texas Eastern District Court
Filed date 11/29/2016
Judge/Magistrate Judge Rodney Gilstrap/Roy S. Payne
Plaintiff KAIST IP US LLC
Plaintiff Attorney Elizabeth L DeRieux
Plaintiff Law Firm Capshaw DeRieux LLP
Defendants Samsung Electronics Co., LTD.| Samsung Electronics America, Inc.| Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.| Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC| GlobalFoundries, Inc.| GlobalFoundries U.S. Inc.| Qualcomm Inc.
Product Samsung FinFET Technology, Chips, and Products; GloFo Chips; and Qualcomm Chips – Processor chips (Semiconductor devices, processor chips incorporating such semiconductor devices, and/or consumer products incorporating such processor chips, 14 nm bulk FinFET technologies, Exynos series of chips, e.g., Exynos 7 Octa 7420, Exynos 7 Quad 7570, Exynos 7 Octa 7870, Exynos 8 Octa 8890, and Exynos 8895, and Defendant Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series of chips, e.g., 820 and 821 chips, Galaxy line of mobile devices, e.g., Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Active, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy Tab A 10.1, Galaxy J7, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy S7 Edge)
Patent US6885055

For more details on this case, click here.


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False Testimony Leads to Triple Damages Award by EDTX against Samsung

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Samsung Electronics was punished with a $21 million enhanced damages award after finding egregious willful infringement of patents held by Imperium IP Holdings of the Cayman Islands.

Judge Mazzant cited the US Supreme Court’s decision this June in Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics while making his determination to triple the damages. At Halo, the majority opinion held that the two-step Seagate test is inconsistent with § 284, which has no explicit limit or condition on when enhanced damages are appropriate. Imperium IP Holdings v. Samsung Electronics in E.D. Tex. is the first case to apply with Halo standard for awarding enhanced damages.

The original complaint was filed on June 2014 by Imperium IP seeking damages from Samsung for infringing the patents. On February 2016, the jury verdict delivered that Samsung had willfully infringed upon the following  patents-in-suit:

1 – U.S. Patent No. 7092029 titled Strobe Lighting System for Digital Images.

2 – U.S. Patent No. 6271884, titled Image Flicker Reduction with Fluorescent Lighting.

An initial complaint of Imperium IP against Samsung seeking relief targeted Samsung products which allegedly infringed Imperium’s patents ‘029 and ‘884.

In this case, the court decided to award enhanced damages to Samsung, because of egregious behavior on the part of Samsung,  including attempts to copy the technology and  moreover, false testimony given by Samsung. Samsung’s representatives testified under oath that they only became aware of Imperium IP’s patents in June 2014, the first time the infringement action was brought to court. However, this was proved incorrect by depositions and other discovery during trial.  Previously, Samsung had also made an attempt to purchase the patents-in-suit from Imperium, concealing its identity through a patent broker. The court thus found that Samsung was aware of Imperium’s patents since at least April 2011 instead of June 2014.

While deciding to award enhanced damages, the court was guided by the non-exclusive factors developed by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit decided in 1992. Likewise, Samsung has also made an attempt in defense to declare that it wasn’t liable for infringing on imaging sensors which it purchased from Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. During September 2015, a damages expert for Imperium deposed that the company wasn’t targeting sensors which Samsung purchased from Sony, but an infringement report on the same day which used a citation only listing Sony sensors.

Court decided that Samsung’s decision not to declare the Sony license defense until November 2015, post the deadline to file for summary judgement and months after receiving the Sony license agreement in April 2015, was evidence that Samsung vigorously intended to not assert the Sony license.

According to USPTO data  and MaxVal’s own research, Imperium accused Samsung in 3 PTAB cases out of which 1 wasn’t instituted.

 

Case Number Petition document Institution document Status
IPR2015-01231 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. (Petitioners) hereby petitions for inter partes review of claims 1-6, 14, and 17-19 (“Challenged Claims”) of U.S. Patent No. 6,271,884. The petition was denied by order due to all challenged claims of the 884 patent  and adding further to the case, that no inter partes review was instituted. Not-instituted
IPR2015-01232 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. (Petitioners) hereby petitions for inter partes review of claims 1, 6, 7, 14, and 16 (“Challenged Claims”) of U.S. Pat. No. 7,092,029 (“the ’029 Patent”), issued to
ESS Technology, Inc. (“ESS”).
Petitioner demonstrates that there is a reasonable likelihood of prevailing in showing the unpatentability of claims 1, 6, 7, 14, and 16 of the ’029 patent. Consequently, we institute inter partes review of claims 1, 6, 7, 14, and 16 as unpatentable over Shimada. ORDERED that inter partes review is instituted as to claims 1, 6, 7, 14, and 16 of the ’029 patent. Instituted
IPR2015-01233 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. (Petitioners) hereby petition for inter partes review of claims 1 and 10 (“Challenged Claims”) of U.S. Patent No. 6,836,290. Petitioner has demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that it would prevail at trial in showing the unpatentability of claims 1 and 10 of the ’290 patent on certain of the grounds asserted in the Petition.
ORDERED that an inter partes review is instituted as to claims 1 and 10 of the ’290 patent.
Instituted