Samsung is one of the largest electronics firms in the world and makes a wide variety of consumer electronic devices. Many of the devices that Samsung builds and sells utilize flash storage including MP3 players, cameras, and mobile phones.
Samsung has been hit with a lawsuit from Spansion that alleges patent infringement. Spansion is one of the world's largest suppliers of flash memory chips reports CNET News. Spansion filed complaints against Samsung with both the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The complaint alleges that Samsung has infringed on Spansion patents in some of its flash components. Spansion claims that the infringement accounted for $30 billion in Samsung global revenues since 2003. The complaint is asking courts for an injunction and damages for the alleged infringements. The patents at the heart of the complaint have to do with floating gate technology, which Spansion claims is the basis for about 90% of the flash memory market.
The complaint also alleges infringement on MirrorBit, another flash technology that is used in a growing share of the flash market widely considered the replacement for floating gate technology in some products. CNET News reports that a possible reason for the suits being filed at this time is that Spansion has acquired another firm called Saifun. The company released a statement saying, "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."
Samsung is not the only firm targeted by Spansion. CNET reports that some companies using Samsung flash memory are listed in the complaint including Apple, Lenovo, and RIM among others.
Kodak also filed suit against Samsung alleging patent infringement by Samsung and LG. The suit alleges that the two companies infringed on Kodak patents relating to image capture, compression, and data storage. Kodak is seeking damages of an undisclosed amount. There is no mention of injunctions against the products in the Kodak complaint.
Samsung faced a similar patent infringement suit in early 2007 concerning technology used in Bluetooth devices.
quote: "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."
quote: Well, the difference this time is that Spansion actually makes flash.
quote: Spansion has ~40% of the NOR market share but <0.5% of the NAND market share (if any at all).