30 January 2018
China’s IP Office rules in favor of AMEC by declaring Veeco’s susceptorless reactor patent invalid
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Shanghai-based Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc (AMEC) says that the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB) of China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) ruled on 23 January that all claims relating to patent number ZL 01822507.1 held by epitaxial deposition and process equipment maker Veeco Instruments Inc of Plainview, NY, USA (Veeco US) titled ‘Susceptorless reactor for growing epitaxial layers on wafers by chemical vapor deposition’ are invalid. The court cited “lack of novelty and non-obviousness” for its decision.
The patent ruled invalid is the Chinese counterpart of the US patents 6506252 and 6726769 asserted by Veeco US in an infringement action filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York last April against AMEC’s wafer carrier supplier (SGL Carbon).
AMEC says that, when first developing its metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) technology, it analyzed the patent and found that the technology covered by it was preceded by substantial prior art dating back to the 1960s, and that the patent should be invalid. AMEC had earlier filed petitions to invalidate the counterpart patents in the intellectual property (IP) offices of China, South Korea and the USA.
“We are confident that the same decision will be reached by the Patent Trial and Appeal Boards of the US Patent & Trademark Office and the Korean IP office,” says Dr Zhiyou Du, senior VP, chief operating officer & general manager of AMEC’s MOCVD product division. “It is intolerable to us that Veeco US would attempt to stifle competition by leveraging an obviously invalid patent to file a lawsuit against AMEC’s wafer carrier supplier,” he adds.
Separately, on 12 January, Chinese customs temporarily detained two Veeco EPIK700 MOCVD systems upon their arrival in China. Shipped by Veeco Asia, the tools are suspected of infringing AMEC’s patent CN 202492576. AMEC says that it is contemplating further legal action, which may include filing a patent infringement lawsuit with the Chinese court.
The Chinese customs’ enforcement action followed a ruling on 7 December by the Fujian High Court granting AMEC’s motion 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 patent in China.
“We will vigorously defend against violations and will always proactively protect our IP investment,” says AMEC’s chairman & CEO Dr Gerald Yin. “We prefer to concentrate on innovating high-value products and providing quality services to customers instead of wasting time and resources on lawsuits,” he adds. “The Chinese LED industry should not be distracted or harmed by litigation involving Veeco US, our wafer carrier supplier, and AMEC. Therefore, we are open to reaching a solution that is beneficial for all three parties,” Yin concludes.