In a not-unexpected move, TSMC late on Monday filed a lawsuit against GlobalFoundries, its pure-play foundry rival, accusing the manufacturer of patent infringment. In the suit, a response to a similar suit filed against TSMC by GlobalFoundries just over a month ago, the world’s biggest contract maker of semiconductors is accusing its competitor of illegally using its intellectual property in its various photolithography processes. Furthermore, in order to prevent what they see as ongoing infringement, TSMC is also asking for the courts for an injunction against GlobalFoundries, which would essentially halt the latter's manufacturing lines.

Without disclosing the exact patents involved, TSMC is alleging that GlobalFoundries has infringed upon as many as 25 of its patents. According to the company, these patents cover the following technologies:

  • FinFET designs;
  • Shallow trench isolation techniques;
  • Double patterning methods, advanced seal rings and gate structures, and innovative contact etch stop layer designs;
  • Strench isolation technique;
  • Double patterning methods, advanced seal rings;
  • Gate structures, and innovative contact etch stop layer designs.

These patents supposedly cover most of GlobalFoundries' modern processes, including their 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes technologies.

In their complaint, TSMC is demanding injunctions against GlobalFoundries, asking the courts to stop GlobalFoundries from making and selling chips using the allegedly infringing technologies. Which, given the broad nature of TSMC's claims, essentially covers all of GlobalFoundries' production lines in some form or another and would seemingly shutter GlobalFoundries manufacturing operations entirely. The company is also seeking "substantial monetary damages" for prior infringement.

Interestingly, if granted, the injunctions would be much broader than what GlobalFoundries asked for against TSMC back in August. Since the case involves US fabs and is being filed in the US (as well as Germany and Singapore), TSMC can seek remedies against GlobalFoundries directly, whereas GlobalFoundries has to seek import injunctions against TSMC's customers since TSMC's manufacturing takes place outside the US.

Without any doubts, TSMC’s decision to countersue GlobalFoundries was forced by GlobalFoundries suing TSMC earlier this year. And while neither side has been granted an injunction thus far, if either side is granted one before the two sides can come to an agreement on their own, then the repercussions for the tech industry as a whole would be devastating.

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Source: TSMC

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  • StevoLincolnite - Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - link

    Don't be sorry. Years ago Anandtech and Dailytech was hosting adverts that delivered malware... Since then I refuse to visit the website without Adblock. They stuffed up.

    They abused the system, the system pushed back.

    Plus Anandtech hasn't really supported any other regions other than the USA with it's competitions anyway despite prior promises... So even less incentive to give them my advert revenue.
  • eek2121 - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    Yep, here we go, cross licensing agreement inbound.
  • shabby - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    So will this block the io chiplet from ryzen in being imported? Or will tsmc just fab it for amd?
  • levizx - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    TSMC can't fab it without significant redesign. Samsung can fab it with a simple re-tapeout.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    Yes, it feels like the corporate version of a playground fight between two little boys over a game of pretend (or man children over their cars...pretty much the same thing either way when men are involved in comparing things they each own) that blew up into something where each one ran to a teacher in tears over what that other big meanie head did.
  • Vitor - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    There are so many vague and overreachings patents that if one company managed to enforce theirs, all others would have to close.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    Can we just skip all the BS, cut to the chase, and have the two companies sign a royalty free cross licensing agreement and buy all their lawyers new luxury yachts; and then spend all the time not wasted on improving their product lines.
  • ipkh - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    That only works if both companies want to. Global Foundries is coasting right now. They don't want to fiend on new nodes. Global Foundries only wants to cheaply expand and improve their existing nodes and cash in on their remaining IP they got from IBM and from their split with AMD. Hopefully they won't go full nuclear on these lawsuits, as that worked so well for Apple.
  • Duncan Macdonald - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    Likely net result - a cross license agreement and some richer lawyers. (AMD might be a bit upset with this whole mess as they depend on both GF and TSMC for the Zen 2 Ryzen line.)
  • SunLord - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - link

    GoFo just wants TSMC to buy them

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