8 February 2018
Veeco, AMEC and SGL settle MOCVD wafer carrier patent litigation
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
Metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) system makers Veeco Instruments Inc of Plainview, NY, USA and Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc (AMEC) of Shanghai, China as well as SGL Carbon SE (which supplies wafer carriers to AMEC) have mutually agreed to settle the pending litigation among the parties and to amicably resolve all pending disputes, including AMEC’s lawsuit against Veeco before the Fujian High Court in China and Veeco’s lawsuit against SGL before the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
On 23 January, the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB) of China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) ruled that all claims relating to Veeco’s patent number ZL 01822507.1 (‘Susceptorless reactor for growing epitaxial layers on wafers by chemical vapor deposition’) were invalid, citing “lack of novelty and non-obviousness”. On 12 January, Chinese customs had temporarily detained two Veeco EPIK700 MOCVD systems (shipped by Veeco Asia) upon arrival in China, due to alleged infringement of AMEC’s patent CN 202492576 (with AMEC saying that it was contemplating further legal action including possibly filing a patent infringement lawsuit with the Chinese court). That followed a ruling on 7 December by the Fujian High Court granting AMEC’s motion (filed on 13 July) for an injunction prohibiting Veeco Shanghai from importing, manufacturing, selling or offering for sale to any third party any MOCVD systems (and wafer carriers used in the MOCVD systems) that would infringe AMEC’s China patent.
Veeco’s ZL 01822507.1 patent is the Chinese counterpart of US patents 6506252 and 6726769 asserted by Veeco in an infringement action filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) last April against SGL Carbon. On 2 November, the EDNY granted Veeco’s motion for a preliminary injunction prohibiting SGL from shipping wafer carriers without Veeco’s express authorization. On 16 November, the EDNY denied SGL’s motion to suspend the preliminary injunction pending an appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
“We have reached a mutually agreed settlement of the pending IP disputes and we are back to normal business operations in our MOCVD business,” says Veeco’s chairman & CEO John R. Peeler.
“This settlement is a good example of how competitors can resolve IP matters for the benefit of their global customer base,” says AMEC’s chairman & CEO Dr Gerald Yin.
As part of the settlement, all legal actions worldwide (in court, patent offices and otherwise) between Veeco, AMEC and SGL and their affiliates will be dismissed and/or otherwise withdrawn. As a result, all business processes, including sales, service and importation, will be continued. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.