Santa Clara, Calif.-based Kilopass on Monday announced it had launched a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Sidense has been using its 1T antifuse technology without permission.
Both firms produce intellectual property related to logic non-volatile memory, or one-time programmable memory technology, used to speed up semiconductor makers’ design work.
The California company highlighted five of its U.S. patents in particular – U.S. patent nos. 6,777,757; 6,856,540; 6,898,116; 6,940,751 and 6,992,925 – that are related to high-density semiconductor memory cell and memory array using a single transistor.
“Kilopass has faithfully followed the road of a good corporate citizen, having invested heavily in research, developed products and filed over 50 patent applications while receiving 40 patents,” said Kilopass CEO Charlie Cheng in a statement. “We don’t take litigations lightly, recognizing their severity and cost. However, it's time to seek the court's assistance, and stop Sidense from using Kilopass technology without permission and, by doing so, misleading customers."
The company added that it might further amend the complaint to include false advertising and unfair business practices.
Sidense is denying the allegations and the local company indicated it believed that its strong performance might have something to do with the launch of Kilopass’s lawsuit. Sidense also recently received $5 million in venture capital financing from Canadian and international investors.
“Give our success in the market and our expanding customer base, we can only speculate as to the motivation behind these unproven allegations,” said Sidense CEO Xerxes Wania in a statement.
“We firmly believe Sidense and our customers will not be affected by this patent dispute.”
However, Kilopass pointed out that it’s had success of its own, with sales doubling in 2009 despite the economic downturn due to the strength of its patents and design licence models.
Kilopass, which was founded in 2001, is three years older than Sidense, although both companies have about the same number of patents in their portfolios – Kilopass said it has 54 patents issued or pending, while Sidense said it has “over 40 patents issued and pending.”
The two share a number of industry relationships, including foundry partnerships with the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd., and pacts with design firms Alchip Technologies and ChipEstimate.com.
The U.S. firm said it spent the three years after its inception working on the first logic CMOS embedded non-volatile memory using antifuse technology at 0.18 micrometres.
“Over the last six years, Kilopass has spent more than $30 million to continue to build its antifuse patent portfolio,” the company noted.
Kilopass's Mr. Cheng added: "Our more than 80 customers have entered into licences with Kilopass with the understanding that they will enjoy both the privileges and rights of using intellectual property based upon our patents.
"Therefore, we have no choice but to use all legal means necessary to enforce our patents to ensure a fair marketplace, with fair pricing and business practices for both Kilopass and our customers."