back to article Chips 'n fish: Globalfoundries casts patent net at rival TSMC

On Monday, Globalfoundries (GF), a chip maker based in Santa Clara, California, said it filed patent infringement claims in the US and Germany against 20 companies that use processors made by rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). "For years, while we have been devoting billions of dollars to domestic …

  1. devTrail

    Trade dispute

    Chinese government official will be elated to see the confusion Azar is making betweeen China and Taiwan even if it is just about the trade relations with the US.

    1. MOV r0,r0

      Re: Trade dispute

      TLDR; Azar is playing a Trump card (also: two Chinas, Taiwan #1!)

      For context, the Republic of China ("Taiwan") is constantly under threat from the Peoples Republic of China ("mainland China"). Xi Jinping is said to want Taiwan incorporated under mainland PRC control before he retires.

      I understood Saam Azar's US-China trade dispute comments as employing the potential for this to seek western political backing for GF's legal case and that his comment that the "importance of the supply chain" not to be concentrated in Taiwan was in the light of more than half of all strategic semiconductor production potentially falling under PRC control.

      He's asking the US government to invite Taipei to pressure TSMC so I don't see any confusion (at least on Azar's part) as understanding that there are two Chinas, asking the largest single impediment to the PRC making it one for help is a smart move.

  2. DougS Silver badge
    Mushroom

    If you can't compete, troll

    TSMC no doubt has plenty of patents that GF is and has violated, and if GF was viable in the future as a foundry to compete with TSMC they'd almost certainly enter into a cross licensing agreement. But GF won't use any of TSMC's patents for e.g. 7nm, 5nm and so on because GF is no longer a leading edge foundry, which allows them the opportunity to act as a patent troll.

    1. DrBed

      Re: If you can't compete, troll

      Exactly. It seems that it is the main MAGA formula.

      "All your base are belong to us" ROFL

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "electronic component makers Avnet/EBV, Digi-key, and Mouser"

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    [edit: most other coverage I've seen describes those three companies as component distributors, not as component makers]

  4. big_D Silver badge

    Does not compute...

    This is about the world needing a competitive semiconductor industry.This is about the world needing a competitive semiconductor industry.

    Surely by stopping TSMC, they are removing competition?

    The story doesn't make clear whether GF has tried to get TSMC to settle already. It will be interesting to see if the patents hold up and whether TSMC has walked away from the negotiating table or whether this is GF skipping talks and jumping straight to lawyers. Also, if this has been going on for years, why are they only now starting action?

    Too many unanswered questions at this stage.

  5. MiguelC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I’ve never understood the logic behind suing the customers instead of the allegedly infringing party

    The courts should throw away cases likes these, one should presume that clients bought their parts in good faith, believing the maker to own or having licensed all the relevant patents.

    There's even a chance consumers could end up being sued; just imagine if - let's say - HP decides to sue customers who bought an Epson printer that they claim is infringing on their IP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I’ve never understood...

      That's how patent law works. A patent is a licence granted by a national government to allow the licencee to prevent others from exploiting the licencee's invention. It may not be made, imported, sold or used.

      GF's patents are (inferring from the article) German and US patents. So GF are suing the people importing and selling them into Germany and the USA. It's the system working as designed.

      And your last statement is entirely correct. In principle at least, end customers can get sued for using an invention.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I’ve never understood the logic behind suing the customers...

      "There's even a chance consumers could end up being sued; just imagine if - let's say - HP decides to sue customers who bought an Epson printer that they claim is infringing on their IP."

      Well, US businesses were being contacted by lawyers and fees demanded for using printers - I first encountered it in 2011 and it looks like it may have finally stopped in 2017:

      https://www.therecycler.com/posts/patent-troll-case-dismissed-in-usa/

  6. IceC0ld Silver badge

    Hits the outside world

    Doubt it will make any real impact, as most people are not able to ascertain just WTF is going on,

    now on the BBC

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49483650

    and I would take bets it is only the prospect of losing the opportunity to buy new kit that will get through Mr and Mrs Joe Blo public's head.

    I too, see this as a patent troll, and hope it is sorted quickly and decisively, preferably for TSMC

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