A federal court in the US ruled that Samsung Electronics Co. must pay US$400 million (440 billion won) to a unit of South Korea’s top science and research university KAIST for infringing a patent related to key semiconductor technology.
According to foreign media reports on June 17, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas court ruled on the 15th (local time) that the Korean tech giant infringed a FinFet technology patent owned by KAIST IP (KIP), the university’s licensing arm, and should pay a fine. The patented technology relates to FinFet is a key transistor technology used to reduce the size of chips and boost performance, including speed. Samsung Electronics has been using the patented technology in the Galaxy S series since 2015. The FinFet technology was developed by Lee Jong-ho, now a professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seoul National University, in 2001 and patented under his name in the US in 2013. Lee then handed his patent rights over to KIP US later.
In this regard, Samsung Electronics said, “The FinFet technology we are using is our own technology developed by our employees and executives through studies. This is different from the FinFet technology on which KIP US claims to have patent rights.” When the company was asked to answer how they are specifically different, it said, “We cannot externally reveal it.”
Samsung Electronics rather raised a question that the patented technology which was developed with government funds might have been exported overseas without approval of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. An official from the company said, “We express our regret at the jury’s decision. We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that is reasonable, including an appeal.”