The Korea Trade Commission (KTC) has closed its investigation into the allegations that Apple infringed upon a Korean venture startup’s FinFET semiconductor patent as the Korean company withdrew its request for an investigation after reaching an agreement with Apple.
The investigation was launched in December 2017, when KIP, an intellectual property rights management subsidiary of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), filed an application for an unfair trade investigation with the Korea Trade Commission. The case expanded into a patent invalidation trial and a civil lawsuit.
KAIST's FinFET semiconductor technology patent is related to a basic device used in the manufacturing of application processors (APs), which correspond to the brains of smartphones and tablet PCs.
KIP claimed that KAIST's patented technology was used by Taiwan's famous foundry maker TSMC in manufacturing APs for Apple's iPhone series and iPad series.
In response, Apple Korea filed an application with the Intellectual Property Tribunal of Korea to nullify the KAIST patent. TSMC also filed civil lawsuits against KAIST in Korean and Taiwanese courts.
The KTC investigated the validity and infringement of the patent by examining documents and holding technical briefings by the parties involved. On March 29, KIP submitted an application to the commission to withdraw its request for an investigation on the grounds that it has reached a settlement with Apple.
Although the specific terms of the settlement were not stated in the application form, the KTC speculates that the agreement included a royalty payment.
"We have decided to shut down the investigation by respecting the parties' intentions. After our decision to close the investigation, all related patent disputes pending in the Intellectual Property Tribunal of Korea and civil court will be withdrawn," the KTC said.