SK hynix has been put in an unfavorable position in a patent infringement suit with Netlist, a U.S. memory semiconductor company.
The US International Trade Commission (USITC) issued last week a “claim construction order” against SK hynix in its investigation of the allegations that the Korean company's RDIMM and LRDIMM enterprise memory products infringed on Netlist's patents.
Claim construction refers to when a judge determines the meaning of disputed words in a patent infringement lawsuit.
The USICT’s order was favorable to Netlist with regard to both of its asserted patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 9,606,907, and 9,535,623.
The patent dispute between the two companies seemed to come to an end in April this year when an administrative law judge (ALJ) granted SK hynix's motion for summary determination of non-infringement and decided to terminate the investigation.
But Netlist petitioned to have the investigation reopened. In May, the USITC accepted part of Netlist’s claim and sent the case back to the ALJ.
This time, the ALJ sided with Netlist on the key claim construction issues at the heart of the dispute.
The claim construction order serves as the framework from which the ITC will ultimately decide if the patents are valid and infringed by SK hynix, and therefore represents a critical juncture in the case.
Now that the meaning of the patents’ wording has been decided upon, a judge must now decide whether SK Hynix’s memory products infringed upon Netlist’s patents.
"We are very pleased with the order and believe this is an important turning point in our dispute with SK hynix," said Netlist's Chief Executive Officer, C.K. Hong in a press release.
"In our view, the claim construction order was thorough, well-reasoned, and vindicates our belief as to the strength of our fundamental IP. This interpretation of the patents puts us in a strong position with respect to infringement, which was the only issue we didn't win in our first ITC action. The order gives us significant momentum heading into the trials scheduled later this year in both the ITC and in Germany."
Hong said if the USITC sees the validity of the Netlist patents, it could order an import ban on SK hynix semiconductors. The company filed a similar suit against SK hynix in Germany and China.
Netlist manufactures modular memory subsystems suitable for high-performance computing and other information technology equipment.