HSINCHU, Taiwan -- The U. S. International Trade Commission has voted to investigate whether Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. is violating two patents owned by United Microelectronics Corp., the world's No.2 silicon foundry.
The move could deal a big blow to SiS, a Taiwanese IC design house that is expanding to be an integrated device manufacturer (IDM). If the ITC finds that SiS is infringing the patents, SiS will not be allowed to export its wafers to the U.S. market, according to a statement from UMC.
The Hsinchu-based foundry said it is taking a tough approach against SiS because it has recruited some of UMC's engineers and infringed its intellectual properties in order to run SiS's wafer fab. The 200 mm wafer facility, located on the island, is the only one that SiS now operates.
The ITC's investigation follows a review of a complaint submitted by UMC earlier, the company said. If the ITC determines wafers violating the patents are being sold to the U.S., the ITC may order that such wafers be excluded from the market as well as that SiS stop infringing the patents. Should SiS not comply with the orders, it can be imposed civil penalties of as much as US$100,000 per day, said UMC.
UMC is anticipating the ITC will make an initial decision by December of this year. Once the decision is made, ITC Commissioners will have 45 days to determine whether to review any aspect of that decision. If they choose not to conduct a review, the decision will become the final ruling, UMC said.
Officials of SiS -- a core logic and graphics chip company -- weren't immediately available for comment.
In December, SiS broke ground its first two 300 mm wafer fab in Taiwan's Tainan Science-based Industrial Park with completion scheduled in 2002. The fab will begin with the company's existing 0.15 micron process or below, while capacity is set at 20,000 wafers per month.