Intel accused of infringing the FinFet patent

Intel accused of infringing the FinFet patent

FinFET has been a core technology element for Intel processors since 2011, serving as a key ingredient in nearly every processor sold. However, Intel was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit in China in 2018 with a Chinese government-funded research and development lab, which claims the company infringed its FinFET patent. Intel responded by challenging the validity of the patent, but recently lost its sixth challenge with the China Patent Reexamination Board, marking another setback to avoid a ban on the sale of its “Core” family of processors in China. br>
Credit: Intel The Institute of Microelectronics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMECAS) filed a lawsuit against the Santa Clara giant in the Beijing High Court in 2018, asking for 200 million yuan (about 31 millions of dollars) in damages plus the cost of litigation. More importantly, the lawsuit also aims to ban the sale of the “Core” family of chips, at least until the two sides reach a licensing agreement. IMECAS filed two other patent infringement lawsuits against Intel. The company cannot assign a dollar amount to the potential total damages, stating: "[...] we are unable to make a reasonable estimate of the potential loss, if any, resulting from these matters. We contest the claims and intend to defend ourselves. "Intel's latest setback in the FinFET case follows a long series of attempts to bring the patent review process to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, the USPTO has decided to leave the dispute in the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Intel began using FinFET designs with the debut of its Ivy Bridge processors in 2011 and continues to employ the technology in its latest products. The dispute concerns patent 457 (CN 102956457), also known as the “FinFET patent”. IMECAS has also sued Dell China and JingDong Century Information Technology (JD) for infringing the same patent, but those companies have offered an indemnity.

Intel has found some success contesting the validity of the patent: three of the claims were found to be invalid. However, eleven of the applications are still pending. This means that, barring further disputes, the infringement lawsuit will continue. IMECAS has also expanded its efforts, suing Intel for two other patent infringements related to the sale and production of its Core i3 processors (CN 102386226 - '226 Patent), this time related to MOSFET technology. These also require injunctions and reimbursements for litigation costs, but differ in the fact that IMECAS reserves the right to claim an unspecified amount of damages.

Credit: Intel According to ICsmart, with over 5,000 patents filed in China and 500 filed in foreign countries, along with 1,505 licenses in IC technologies, IMECAS has a lot of experience with patent law. Intel is certainly not the latest addition either, so we can expect these cases to drag on for some time. The challenge of the validity of the FinFET patent is still in its infancy, but, anyway, it appears that Intel is running out of options to challenge the veracity of the patent, so this case could enter court or see an agreement in the coming months. br>

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