Print 14 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on Nov 19 at 6:53 PM

Samsung hit with multiple lawsuits for patent infringement

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.

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RE: Riiight
By sprockkets on 11/18/2008 3:11:34 PM , Rating: 4
Well, the difference this time is that Spansion actually makes flash.

RE: Riiight
By radializer on 11/18/2008 7:11:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the difference this time is that Spansion actually makes flash.

Yes they do ... but an aspect of all this has been left out of this article altogether - and that is the fact that Spansion is the leader in shipments of NOR flash only while Samsung is the leader for NAND flash shipments.

Spansion has ~40% of the NOR market share but >0.5% of the NAND market share (if any at all).

I am not very sure how these factors influence the argument in terms of the patent disputes, but a lot of the basic architecture of the cells for the two types of cells may not be too different. The basic cell transistor is still a floating gate device (SONOS or otherwise) - so it would help the article comprehension a lot to inform the reader what exact patents are allegedly being violated. Any ideas Shaun?

From the market share perspective, Spansion may sound big but it really isn't - they have 9,000 employees to Samsung's 85,000 and Spansion's net profit margin has been negative 10% or lower since 2006. Maybe this is just an attempt to try to bolster their income?

As a side-note, not sure if people know that Spansion is an AMD spin-off that went IPO in 2005

RE: Riiight
By radializer on 11/18/2008 7:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
Spansion has ~40% of the NOR market share but <0.5% of the NAND market share (if any at all).

Ugh ... need caffeine ...

RE: Riiight
By Oregonian2 on 11/19/2008 1:36:36 AM , Rating: 2
Don't both NAND and NOR flash use floating gates, that which the patents are related to (or related to being alternatives to)?

Seems like the patents may be relevant to Spansion's business.

RE: Riiight
By NubWobble on 11/19/2008 2:54:40 AM , Rating: 1
This isn't about the patents because they're not going to win, this is about publicity. The RIAA did the same thing with that granny. Now if they release a new product people will remember them and they will sell because they can claim they invented it, whether they did is beside the point.

RE: Riiight
By Oregonian2 on 11/19/2008 6:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
If they buy and absorb the company that developed the technology and has the patents, then "they" did indeed invent it because a part of them IS who did it.

No the whole company isn't the inventor, but in large companies the whole company doesn't work on any one project (other than the "net" bottom line).

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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