25th October 2007

Sandisk sues 25 companies over flash patents

posted by Eric C. in Drives/Media, Hardware |

Sandisk is suing what seems like a majority of the companies that sell, manufacture or import flash based products (Compact Flash cards, SD Cards, Flash MP3 Players, etc.). According to the press release, “The actions, filed in the United States District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin and in the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”), allege that the defendants have infringed various SanDisk system-level patents, and seek damages and a permanent injunction in the federal court actions, as well as a permanent exclusion order from the ITC banning importation of the products into the United States.” It goes on to say, “These actions demonstrate SanDisk’s long-term commitment to enforcing its patents, both to protect our investment in research and development by obtaining a fair return on that investment, and out of fairness to third-parties that participate in our patent licensing program,” said E. Earle Thompson, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at SanDisk. “Our goal is to resolve these matters by offering the defendants the opportunity to participate in our patent licensing program for card and system technology. Otherwise, we will aggressively pursue these actions, seeking a prompt judicial resolution awarding damages, obtaining injunctive relief and banning importation of infringing product.”

Hopefully this isn’t something like how RAMBUS tried to say it owned patents on SDRAM or how SCO said it owned Unix and by extension Linux. Although, with SanDisk (and Toshiba) being investigation for allegations of NAND flash price fixing by U.S. Department of Justice, it looks like it may be something along those lines.

The companies being sued are as follows:

  • ACP-EP Memory
  • A-Data
  • Apacer
  • Behavior Computer (d/b/a Emprex)
  • Buffalo
  • Chipsbank
  • Corsair Memory
  • Dane-Elec
  • Edge
  • Imation/Memorex
  • Interactive Media (d/b/aKanguru)
  • Kaser
  • Kingston
  • LG Electronics
  • Phison Electronics
  • PNY
  • PQI
  • Silicon Motion
  • Skymedi
  • Transcend
  • TSR (d/b/a T.One)
  • USBest
  • Verbatim
  • Welldone Company
  • Zotek/Zodata (d/b/a Huke)

To read the full press release, click here

There is currently one response to “Sandisk sues 25 companies over flash patents”

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  1. 1 On October 30th, 2007, Eric Chevallier said:

    In response to SanDisk’s claims about various NAND flash-based patent infringements, a number of defendants noted that they have not yet received official notification from SanDisk about the issue, according to sources at the companies. Some of them believe that the patents SanDisk holds may not necessarily have power outside the US market, especially in China. In light of this, they interpret the lawsuit more like a business measure to affect market discipline.

    The filing listed Taiwan-based companies including A-Data Technology, Apacer Technology, Phison Electronics, Power Quotient International (PQI), Silicon Motion, Skymedi and Transcend Information, as well as US-based Kingston Technology, the world’s top memory module maker.

    Kingston Technology’s Taiwan office declined to comment on the SanDisk lawsuit.

    However, sources close to Kingston’s Taiwan operations said the company were not surprised about SanDisk’s accusations as the two parties did not reach a mutual consensus over the royalty scheme for NAND flash-related goods during a previous negotiation. The sources added that Kingston sources most of its NAND flash from leading chipmakers, therefore the company should not be liable for royalties. As NAND flash is becoming more like a commodity good, leading companies that aim to preserve their market share via securing their patents is inevitable, the sources added.

    Phison Electronics, which is named as one of the defendants, was cited by a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report as saying that the company gained SanDisk’s license for USB-related products with payment being paid on time every month. The controller design house said the issue may probably just be a misunderstanding, the paper wrote.

    Following the consolidation between SanDisk and MSystems, SanDisk maintains only very limited shipments of USB drives with some of the listed defendants being OEM partners of the new entity. These companies expressed embarrassment about being sued by their client.

    Some industry players have commented on Samsung not being involved in the dispute. They speculate that Samsung may either have a cross-licensing relationship with SanDisk or the company has its own patent portfolio that frees itself from the patent dispute. Some industry players expressed concern that their business may be suppressed if SanDisk wins the lawsuit as only chipmakers such as Samsung and Toshiba have the rights to produce end products based on NAND flash.

    posted on digitimes here http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20071026PD206.html

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