Washington: Toshiba Corp., Japan’s biggest semiconductor maker, and South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor Inc. agreed to end patent disputes over chips used to store data in digital cameras and MP3 players.
Financial terms were not disclosed. Each company will get a license to the other’s semiconductor technology and signed product supply agreements. The accord, announced on 20 March, settles all patent-related litigation in Japan and the US, including three disputes before the US International Trade Commission here.
The fight illustrates the increasingly competitive market for NAND flash memory chips, which allow the storage of songs and pictures in electronic devices. Prices are declining as demand increases. Global NAND sales may rise 17% to $16.5 billion this year, Merrill Lynch & Co. has estimated.
“The signing of the agreements is a positive step for both companies,” Shozo Saito, executive vice president of Toshiba’s semiconductor unit, said in a statement. “With litigation behind us, and through these agreements, we can now strengthen our respective businesses.”
The legal battles between the two companies began in November 2004 when Tokyo-based Toshiba sued its larger rival after the companies failed to extend a licensing agreement.
Administrative law judges had ruled against both companies in their respective trade cases filed last year. The ITC, which has the power to block products from entering the US, in February upheld a finding that Hynix did not infringe Toshiba patents. It was scheduled to issue a decision in two days in the case Hynix filed against Toshiba.
Toshiba filed another complaint against Hynix in January that was still in the early stages. The companies also were suing each other in northern California.
Hynix, based in Ichon, South Korea, is Asia’s second-biggest maker of memory chips behind Samsung Electronics Co. Officials with the company’s office in Eugene, Oregon, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.