The US International Trade Commission (ITC) announced on October 30 (local time) it will investigate the alleged violation of the clause 37 of the US customs law by Samsung Electronics’ semiconductors and the products containing them, according to industry sources on November 5.
The ITC explained the move is in response to the complaint filed by US-based semiconductor packaging firm Tessera Advanced Technologies which accused Samsung Electronics of infringing the patents related to wafer level packaging. The wafer level packaging is a technology that can simplify the packaging of wafers and reduce the volume of finished products.
According to the ITC, the US company asked the trade watchdog to ban sales of chips and the products containing the chips, arguing the integrated circuits for the power management of Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones were cases of patent infringement.
"We have voted to institute an investigation of some wafer-level packaging semiconductor devices and products containing them," the ITC said, adding, “The products at issue in the investigation are cellular phones, tablets, laptops, notebook computers and cameras that include wafer-level packaged semiconductor components."
Earlier on September 28, Tessera reportedly sued Samsung Electronics and its affiliates for infringements of as many as 24 patents related to bonding, packaging and imaging technologies in the ITC, three federal state courts and some international tribunals.
US chipmaker Netlist also asked the ITC to investigate into SK hynix on October 31, accusing the Korean memory chipmaker of infringing two patents owned by the company regarding memory modules. The ITC hasn’t yet decided to probe the Korean chipmaker.
Under the US customs law, the ITC is authorized to issue bans on imports of goods that are found to have infringed US patents. In 2013, the trade watchdog issued a ban on a handful of Samsung devices including the Galaxy S and the Galaxy S2, saying they violated patents held by Apple.
The ITC said it will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time.
In the meantime, the ITC last month started investigations into a petition filed by Whirlpool Corp which argued that washing machines of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics were damaging the US industry. A public hearing was held on October 19 to discuss imposition of safeguard restrictions on the washers of Samsung and LG. The ITC will hold a vote on its decision on November 21 based on the discussion at the hearing and make a written recommendation to President Donald Trump by December 4. The US President will have six days to review the recommendation and make a final decision.