Spansion, Kodak file patent suits against Samsung

Spansion seeks the exclusion from the U.S. market of more than 100 million MP3 players and other consumer electronics devices containing Samsung's allegedly infringing flash memory components.

Spansion and Kodak slammed Samsung with two separate patent infringement lawsuits Monday.

Spansion, one of the world's largest suppliers of flash memory chips, on Monday announced it has filed two patent infringement complaints against Samsung with the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

Spansion is seeking the exclusion from the U.S. market of more than 100 million MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras, and other consumer electronics devices containing Samsung's allegedly infringing flash memory components.

The complaint also seeks an injunction and treble damages for alleged patent violations relating to Samsung flash memory that Spansion says has accounted for more than $30 billion in Samsung's global revenues since 2003.

Flash memory is found in virtually all electronic devices and is one of the largest segments of the semiconductor industry, with nearly $130 billion in total revenues since 2000.

The Spansion patents named in the lawsuits are fundamental to floating gate technology, "which is the foundation for approximately 90 percent of the flash memory market," according to Spansion.

The chipmaker is also targeting MirrorBit, a "charge-trapping technology" that represents a growing share of the flash memory market and is expected to replace floating gate technology in the future. Flash memory companies including Samsung have publicly announced their plans to transition to charge-trapping type technologies for their future generation products, according to Spansion.

The acquisition of Saifun appears to be one of the driving forces behind these lawsuits. "The acquisition of Saifun Semiconductor earlier this year expanded Spansion's IP portfolio and was a key milestone in Spansion's strategy to create a major licensing business, and generate new streams of significant revenue with very high margins," the company said.

Spansion also listed the "manufacturers of downstream products" containing Samsung's infringing devices in its ITC complaint. Companies named in the ITC case include: Samsung, Apple, Asus, Kingston, Lenovo, PNY, RIM, Sony, Sony-Ericsson, and Transcend.

The Kodak actions allege that both Samsung and LG camera phones infringe Kodak digital camera patents. The patents in question cover technology related to image capture, compression, and data storage and a method for previewing motion images, Kodak said.

Kodak on Monday filed suit against Samsung and LG in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, as well as in the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Kodak's District Court complaints request compensation for damages resulting from the companies' infringement, and both the District Court and ITC actions seek injunctions prohibiting Samsung and LG from further importation and sale of products cited in the complaints. Kodak did not disclose the amount of damages it is pursuing.

Kodak has licensed its imaging patents to several leading technology companies including: MEI/Panasonic, Motorola, Nokia, Olympus, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and others.

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