TSMC has responded to GlobalFoundries accusations of patents infringements. The world’s largest foundry said that it would defend itself in courts and that it considered allegations as baseless. The contract maker of semiconductors said that throughout its history it was granted 37,000 patents and naturally considers itself one of the leaders in the industry.

On Monday GlobalFoundries said that TSMC, a number of its customers, as well as makers of various products infringed 16 of its patents covering various aspects of chip manufacturing. In particular, GlobalFoundries claims that TSMC’s 7 nm, 10 nm, 12 nm, 16 nm, and 28 nm nodes illegally use its intellectual property. Among defendants, the company named Apple, Broadcom, Mediatek, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Xilinx and many others. GlobalFoundries seeks damages from TSMC and wants courts to ban shipments of products that use infringing semiconductors into the USA and Germany.

GlobalFoundries vs. TSMC et al
Fabless Chip Designers Consumer Product Manufacturers Electronic Component Distributors
Apple
Broadcom
Mediatek
NVIDIA
Qualcomm
Xilinx
Arista
ASUS
BLU
Cisco
Google
HiSense
Lenovo
Motorola
TCL
OnePlus
Avnet/EBV
Digi-key
Mouser

Quite naturally, TSMC denies any allegations and claims that it will defend itself in courts. The company stresses that it spends billions of dollars on R&D and has been granted 37,000 patents worldwide. Typically, high-tech companies counter-sue each other in patent infringement cases, so it will not be surprising if TSMC decides to sue GlobalFoundries. In the end, this is what patents are for. Meanwhile, unlike GlobalFoundries, TSMC will unlikely sue fabless designers of semiconductors that use the former’s services to a large degree because the vast majority of chip developers are it slients.

The statement by TSMC reads as follows:

TSMC is in the process of reviewing the complaints filed by GlobalFoundries on August 26, but is confident that GlobalFoundries’ allegations are baseless. As a leading innovator, TSMC invests billions of dollars each year to independently develop its world-class, leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing technologies. As a result, TSMC has established one of the largest semiconductor portfolios with more than 37,000 patents worldwide and a top 10 ranking for US patent grants for 3 consecutive years since 2016. We are disappointed to see a foundry peer resort to meritless lawsuits instead of competing in the marketplace with technology. TSMC is proud of its technology leadership, manufacturing excellence, and unwavering commitment to customers. We will fight vigorously, using any and all options, to protect our proprietary technologies.

GlobalFoundries vs. TSMC et al, GF's Patents in the Cases
Title Patent No. Inventors
Bit Cell With Double Patterned Metal Layer Structures US 8,823,178 Juhan Kim, Mahbub Rashed
Semiconductor device with transistor local interconnects US 8,581,348 Mahbub Rashed, Steven Soss, Jongwook Kye, Irene Y. Lin, James Benjamin Gullette, Chinh Nguyen, Jeff Kim, Marc Tarabbia, Yuansheng Ma, Yunfei Deng, Rod Augur, Seung-Hyun Rhee, Scott Johnson, Subramani KengeriSuresh Venkatesan
Semiconductor device with transistor local interconnects US 9,355,910 Mahbub Rashed, Irene Y. Lin, Steven Soss, Jeff Kim, Chinh Nguyen, Marc Tarabbia, Scott Johnson, Subramani Kengeri, Suresh Venkatesan
Introduction of metal impurity to change workfunction of conductive electrodes US 7,425,497 Michael P. Chudzik, Bruce B. Doris, Supratik Guha, Rajarao Jammy, Vijay Narayanan, Vamsi K. Paruchuri, Yun Y. Wang,Keith Kwong Hon Wong
Semiconductor device having contact layer providing electrical connections US 8,598,633 Marc Tarabbia, James B. Gullette, Mahbub RashedDavid S. Doman, Irene Y. Lin, Ingolf Lorenz, Larry Ho, Chinh Nguyen, Jeff Kim, Jongwook Kye, Yuansheng MaYunfei Deng, Rod Augur, Seung-Hyun Rhee, Jason E. Stephens, Scott Johnson, Subramani Kengeri, Suresh Venkatesan
Method of forming a metal or metal nitride interface layer between silicon nitride and copper US 6,518,167 Lu You, Matthew S. Buynoski, Paul R. Besser, Jeremias D. Romero, Pin-Chin, Connie Wang, Minh Q. Tran
Structures of and methods and tools for forming in-situ metallic/dielectric caps for interconnects US 8,039,966 Chih-Chao Yang, Chao-Kun Hu
Introduction of metal impurity to change workfunction of conductive electrodes US 7,750,418 Michael P. Chudzik, Bruce B. Doris, Supratik Guha, Rajarao Jammy, Vijay Narayanan, Vamsi K. Paruchuri, Yun Y. Wang, Keith Kwong Hon Wong
Methods of forming FinFET devices with a shared gate structure US 8,936,986 Andy C. Wei, Dae Geun Yang
Semiconductor device with stressed fin sections US 8,912,603 Scott Luning, Frank Scott Johnson
Multiple dielectric FinFET structure and method US 7,378,357 William F. Clark, Jr., Edward J. Nowak
Bit cell with double patterned metal layer structures US 9,105,643 Juhan Kim, Mahbub Rashed
Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) device having gate structures connected by a metal gate conductor US 9,082,877 Yue Liang, Dureseti Chidambarrao, Brian J. Greene, William K. Henson, Unoh Kwon, Shreesh Narasimha, and Xiaojun Yu
Hybrid contact structure with low aspect ratio contacts in a semiconductor device DE 102011002769 Kai Frohberg, Ralf Richter
Complementary transistors comprising high-k metal gate electrode structures and epitaxially formed semiconductor materials in the drain and source areas DE 102011004320 Gunda Beernink, Markus Lenski
Semiconductor device with transistor local interconnects DE 102012219375 Mahbub Rashed, Irene Y. Lin, Steven Soss, Jeff Kim, Chinh Nguyen, Marc Tarabbia, Scott Johnson, Subramani Kengeri, Suresh Venkatesan

Related Reading:

Source: TSMC

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  • stevechipgfxguy - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    Remember that GF is the merger of Charted semi, AMD's fab, and more recently IBMs fab. So they have all of the above's patents on ic fabrication, and most likely the AMD/IBM have a cross license - so even if they made a chip at TSMC it would be convered, bus somebody else making the same thing at TSMC would not be covered. Reply
  • haukionkannel - Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - link

    Yep. That is the reason!
    They allready have rights to these patents.
    Reply
  • MandiEd - Saturday, August 31, 2019 - link

    I wonder if IBM is behind of this patent trolling. TSMC already declined IBM's offer of technology sharing and IBM is in bed with both GF and Samsung. Reply
  • levizx - Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - link

    AMD can't infringe GloFo's patents. Reply
  • linuxgeex - Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - link

    AMD is a client and they mix Glofo and TSMC wafers in products, so blocking Glofo for AMD would serve to block their own product stream lol. Reply
  • azfacea - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    NOW we know why GF was selling assets. its not re-inventing to become "speciality manufacturer" its re-inventing as a patent troll. Reply
  • Orange_Swan - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    an unnerving thought. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    and it could just be that GloFo has figured out that ever smaller nodes provide only minimal benefit. after all, we're no longer in the time when Gates always responded to complaints about Windoze: "just let the hardware fix it". 99.44% of folks can do what they need with a Pentium and good broadband. all of the high CPU/GPU uses are ever shrinking niche. Reply
  • Targon - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    You think that TSMC 7nm didn't help AMD compared to 12nm from TSMC? Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - link

    "You think that TSMC 7nm didn't help AMD compared to 12nm from TSMC? "

    as, among other things NAND/DRAM, there is no supply-side creating its own demand. the benefit to the majority of computer users from ever smaller nodes is below the noise level. the demand for new smartphones (I'm talkin to your Apple) is drying up. and so forth. do you think that gamers will save the industry? games aren't 1-2-3.
    Reply

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