US Trade Panel to Investigate Semiconductor Patent Complaint

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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to investigate three patent complaints -- about semiconductor circuits, camera phones and flash memory chips -- that could lead to products being banned from import into the U.S.

The trade panel voted Thursday to proceed with an investigation into alleged patent violations related to semiconductor integrated circuits. Qimonda AG of Germany filed a complaint against Seagate Technology and its subsidiaries and LSI, alleging that the two companies have violated its patents related to semiconductor integrated circuits used in a variety of products, including data storage and networking products.

Qimonda's complaint involves seven patents on an output driver device for an integrated circuit. The company is asking the ITC to ban the import of products containing the alleged patented technology. A Seagate enterprise hard drive and a number of LSI products are infringing the patents, Qimonda said in its complaint.

Qimonda filed a so-called Section 337 complaint against the two companies. The ITC will investigate the complaint and decide whether to ban imports of the devices in the complaint.

Seagate and LSI representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, ITC said it would investigate a complaint by Eastman Kodak against Samsung and LG Electronics. Eastman Kodak complained that the two companies have violated patents it holds on mobile phones and other wireless devices containing digital cameras. Kodak's Nov. 17 complaint involves two patents, one focused on digital cameras able to take reduced resolution images, and one focused on technology allowing camera users to preview an image.

Finally, the ITC has voted to investigate a Nov. 17 patent complaint filed by Spansion and related to flash memory chips and products.

Spansion's complaint targets Samsung, Apple, Kingston Technology, Lenovo, Research In Motion and several other companies. Spansion's ITC complaint involves four patents related to the structure of memory cells, how to isolate the memory cells, and how to operate the memory cells in a way that make flash memory chips containing the cells faster, cheaper, smaller and more reliable, the company said.

Spansion also has a patent lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

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