|Broadcom Infringed Tessera Semiconductor IP: ITC JudgeBy Nicole Narea|
Law360, New York (July 5, 2017, 3:41 PM EDT) -- A U.S. International Trade Commission administrative law judge on Wednesday found that a wide range of Broadcom Corp. products imported to the U.S. infringe a Tessera Technologies Inc. semiconductor patent, recommending standard remedies preventing the company from continuing to do so, a representative for Tessera said in a statement.
On Friday, Administrative Law Judge Dee Lord issued her notice of initial determination — a brief summary of her full decision — ruling that Broadcom violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act prohibiting unfair competition involving imports and the importation of infringing goods with respect to U.S. Patent Number 6,849,946 claiming a semiconductor layout configuration. She also found that Broadcom had not committed a violation of Tessera’s intellectual property rights with respect to another semiconductor patent because Tessera failed to prove that it had established a domestic industry around that patent and that a number of claims of a third related patent were invalid.
The full initial determination, made available to counsel on Wednesday, is subject to confidentiality restrictions, but Tessera’s CEO John Kirchner confirmed the scope of the company’s win in a statement.
"We are very pleased with this result, which our counsel has confirmed is a complete victory on the ‘946 patent," Kirchner said on Wednesday. "The ALJ found that the ‘946 patent is infringed, valid and has a domestic industry in the United States. This is a key patent on a fundamental manufacturing process technology that is not only very broadly infringed across all of Broadcom's significant product lines, but, we believe, is used by many others in the semiconductor industry."
Tessera, which licenses its technologies to several hundred companies, including Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc., filed its initial complaint in May 2016, alleging that Broadcom had unlawfully imported and sold semiconductor products infringing three Tessera patents: U.S. Patent Numbers 6,856,007; 6,849,946; and 6,133,136.
According to court filings, the ’007 patent covers a compact and economical semiconductor chip assembly that includes a packaged semiconductor chip, a chip carrier with a metallic thermal conductor and a circuit panel with a thermal conductor mounting. The ’946 patent claims a semiconductor layout configuration and method that results in a more efficient planarization process for a semiconductor chip. And the ’136 patent describes a structure for metal interconnects used in semiconductor packaging.
Tessera called Broadcom's alleged unauthorized use of those patented technologies as "widespread and pervasive" across all of its product lines, according to the complaint.
"Broadcom has failed to engage in meaningful licensing talks with Tessera despite Tessera's earnest and repeated efforts to pursue a business relationship over the past several years," the complaint states.
Tessera requested a permanent limited exclusion order to prevent Broadcom's infringing products from entering the U.S., as well as a permanent cease-and-desist order prohibiting Broadcom from marketing or selling the accused products.
Additionally, it asked the commission to impose a bond during a presidential review period to impede Broadcom in continuing to harm its business. ITC orders go into effect after a period of 60 days, unless rejected by the ITC president for policy reasons.
The ITC announced its intention to investigate Tessera’s complaint in June 2016 in a statement, recognizing that infringement could span Broadcom’s semiconductor technologies, mobile devices, set-top boxes, gateways, modems, routers, Ethernet switches, network routing equipment, infrastructure equipment for telecommunications and cable, networking and cloud systems.
The ALJ on Friday found that Broadcom had infringed the ’946 patent, but not the ’136 patent, for which Tessera failed to demonstrate a domestic industry, or the ’007 patent, several claims of which were found to be invalid. She additionally recommended what Tessera described as “standard remedies” that would bar Broadcom and its customers from importing, selling and engaging in a variety of related domestic activity in connection with infringing imported products.
Michael C. Spillner, in-house counsel for Tessera, said in a statement on Monday that the notice of the ALJ’s initial determination was one of several recent legal victories against Broadcom.
He said that Tessera had successfully defended the same patent that Broadcom was found on Friday to infringe in an inter partes review challenge at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in March. And he also cited a German court that ruled earlier this year to impose an injunction barring Broadcom from shipping products into Germany that infringed a different Tessera semiconductor patent.
“We remain interested in negotiating a fair and reasonable license with Broadcom, but absent a satisfactory resolution, we will continue to defend our IP rights and enforce these decisions to the fullest extent of the law," Kirchner said on Wednesday.
The ALJ's initial determination will be subject to review by the commission and remedies will not go into effect until the completion of the investigation, which is currently slated for Oct. 30, 2017, a representative for Covington & Burling LLP, the firm representing Tessera, said in a statement on Monday.
Counsel for Broadcom did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Broadcom is represented by David E. Sipiora of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.
Tessera is represented by Sturgis M. Sobin of Covington & Burling LLP.
The case is In the Matter of Certain Semiconductor Devices, Semiconductor Device Packages and Products Containing Same, investigation number 337-TA-1010 before the U.S. International Trade Commission.
--Editing by Stephen Berg.
Update: This story has been updated with information from Tessera about the ALJ’s full initial determination on Wednesday.