IP Computer Chip Lawsuit Heard ‘Round the World
We’ve blogged about the growing need for legal and IP translation services for patent infringement litigation. Did you know that over the Summer 2019, there was a chance that American consumers would be unable to purchase the Apple iPhone XS? Indeed, in late August an intellectual property lawsuit was filed that had the potential to stop Apple’s iPhone XS, iPhone 7, AirPods, Watch 4, TV 4K, and iPad mini from being imported into the United States.
As you would expect, a lawsuit that called for the exclusion of popular Apple products from coming into the U.S. made the world – particularly the tech world – stand up and take notice. In fact, the exclusion of iPhones was only a small part of this massive patent infringement lawsuit that pitted a relatively new U.S. new chip manufacturer against a Taiwanese chip manufacturing powerhouse.
The lawsuit was called GlobalFoundries vs. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and it contains some fascinating insight into the worldwide reach of intellectual property disputes. Fortunately, in October 2019, the parties settled the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit is still worth discussing, not only for the complexity of the case, but for what it means to lawyers litigating such matters.
In short, the kind of IP litigation involved in GlobalFoundaries could only be accomplished with the assistance of professional legal translators and deposition interpreters. Accordingly, we will take a little time to discuss the circumstances of the GlobalFoundaries lawsuit, and delve into how a legal translation service can be deployed to ensure a patent infringement lawsuit moves forward.
The Players in GlobalFoundaries
GlobalFoundaries is a computer chip manufacturing company that was founded in 2009. The company did not come from whole cloth, however. The company actually took over the former manufacturing operations of Advanced Micro Devices, and purchased a company called Chartered Semiconductor. Several years later, it took over former IBM facilities in New York and Vermont.
By contrast, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been operating since 1987 and focuses on manufacturing computer chips designed by other companies. TSMC accounts for nearly 50 percent of the market for outsourced chip production, and its share of production of the most advanced chips is, according to GlobalFoundaries, nearly 90 percent. In sum, TSMC is one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world.
The Transnational Patent Infringement Lawsuit
On August 26, 2019, GlobalFoundaries filed a series of patent infringement lawsuits against TSMC, essentially claiming that TSMC infringed on about 16 patents of chip manufacturing processes owned by GlobalFoundaries.
The lawsuits were filed in two federal district courts in the United States, in two courts in Germany, and with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). In addition to a claim for damages to compensate for an alleged loss of tens of billions in sales due to the use of the proprietary technology, GlobalFoundaries also requested a stop to the import of the above-mentioned Apple products into the United States.
In fact, GlobalFoundaries sought the exclusion of a number of products from the U.S. and, therefore, added the following defendants to the lawsuit: Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Broadcom, Xilinx, Lenovo, and Motorola. What is interesting here is that a court order excluding the imports of products from those companies would do more harm to those companies than TSMC itself.
In response, TSMC filed a counter-suit several months later, alleging that GlobalFoundries infringed on 25 of its chip-making patents.
As noted, in late October 2019, all of the relevant lawsuits were settled out of court. So, it appears that this case was, at bottom, a tempest in a teapot. It was most likely a move by GlobalFoundaries to put pressure on TSMC, and to take some advantage of the current trade disputes between the U.S. and China, given that both GlobalFoundaries and TSMC have their sights set on opening facilities in China. The end result was a 10-year cross-license between the two companies on the patents in question.
How Legal Translation Services Were Needed to Allow the Lawsuit to Happen
The patent infringement lawsuit itself is fascinating enough. Yet, what is also fascinating is the kind of legal translation work that was necessary to allow the lawsuit to move forward. In this case, you have multiple lawsuits filed in both the United States and Germany, between an American company and a Taiwanese company, along with a host of other multinational companies as defendants.
Without question, the lead attorneys in the case would have needed a number of legal translators to ensure that the suits and service documents were properly translated into German and Traditional Chinese, at least.
In addition, the substance of the lawsuits involved complex patent materials and terminology. Translations of highly technical information would have necessarily required the expertise of a professional legal translation service, given that translators who do not specialize in IP translation services would likely have a great deal of difficulty handling the technical terms of art – as well as the legal terms of art – involved in the GlobalFoundaries lawsuits.
Simply stated, with a case such as this, where courts and parties are in multiple places throughout the globe, an experienced legal translation service is vital. We welcome you to contact the experienced, reliable translators and remote and in-person deposition interpreters at All Language Alliance, Inc. for assistance with your transnational litigation. Call our legal translation service with extensive experience in IP matters at 303-470-9555 today to learn more.
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