WASHINGTON Five U.S. companies that refurbish chip-manufacturing equipment have sued industry leader Applied Materials Inc., alleging it engaged in anticompetitive practices by limiting the availability of replacement parts for chip gear.
The companies alleged that Applied Materials (Santa Clara, Calif.) moved last January to limit the availability of replacement parts needed to refurbish chip-manufacturing equipment.
A law firm representing the five plaintiffs claimed Thursday (Jan. 19) that Applied Materials sought to "starve its competitors of the equipment parts necessary to refurbish and reconfigure microchip manufacturing equipment needed by today’s high-tech product makers."
The Watts Law Firm (San Antonio, Texas) said it filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Austin on behalf of the five companies: Austin-based Silicon Services Consortium Inc. and Semiconductor Support Services Co.; and Phoenix-based OEM Surplus, Inc., Precision Technician Inc. and Semiconductor Equipment Specialist Inc.
The companies alleged that Applied Materials' practices violated U.S. antitrust laws. They claimed the violations could collectively cost them $100 million in lost equipment value, future business and revenues.
They also alleged that Applied Materials is manipulating the equipment market to create a monopoly for itself in the IC manufacturing equipment industry.
Lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Mikal Watts, said in a statement: "At this point we do not believe that the actual damages have reached $100 million, but by the time of trial they are expected to be pretty close to that figure."
Applied Materials raised eyebrows when it acquired parts supplier and refurbisher Metron Technology N.V. for $85 million in 2004.
Applied Materials spokesman David Miller said the company was unaware of the lawsuit "As we only just received this notice, we will need to review it further to understand the nature of the complaint."