Samsung Electronics Under US Patent Investigation

Seoul, May 24: | Updated: May 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
The US International Trade Commission is investigating Samsung Electronics Co for allegedly infringing on US semiconductor patents held by Toshiba Corp, South Korea’s trade agency said on Friday.

The investigation into the world’s largest memory chip-maker stems from a complaint on April 22 by Toshiba, Japan’s second-largest chip-maker, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) said.

The products under investigation are Samsung’s dynamic random access memory chips, alpha microprocessors, chip packages, graphic memory chips and flash memory chips, Kotra said.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said, the suit was filed after the expiry of a cross-licence agreement with Samsung and involved about 10 patents.

She declined to give further details on the technologies involved, adding that talks were continuing on a renewal of the licencing agreement.

Samsung said earlier on Friday it was also seeking to resolve the dispute through talks.

"We want to put an amicable end to this issue through dialogue with Toshiba," a Samsung Electronics spokeswoman said. "If that is not possible, we are considering our own measures," she said, including possibly a legal response.

Shares of Samsung Electronics ended up 1.7 per cent at 366,000 won on Friday, while the broader stock market index closed up 1.07 per cent.

Japan’s chip-makers were hit hard by the IT slump of the past year, posting huge operating losses in their semiconductor divisions, and have seen their global competitiveness steadily erode vis-a-vis aggressive foreign rivals such as Samsung.

Last year Toshiba announced it would stop producing standard DRAM chips, used for computer memory, and focus on NAND flash memory, a potentially high-growth product used in digital cameras and other consumer electronics.

Faced with flagging competitiveness in manufacturing, big Japanese chip-makers like Toshiba are paring their production capacity while aiming to milk more value from their extensive patent portfolios.