KALISPELL, Mont.--Semitool Inc. here today announced U.S. patent lawsuits in California and Oregon against Applied Materials Inc., Novellus Systems Inc., and Ebara Corp., claiming infringement of technology that enhances electroplating of copper metal for IC interconnects.
Semitool said it is suing Applied in U.S. District Court in Northern California. Separate cases have been filed against Novellus and Ebara in the U.S. District Court for Oregon.
In the lawsuits, Semitool claims infringement of a recently awarded patent (No. 6,197,181) for an enhancement to copper seed-layer processes. The company said the technology minimizes defects and extends copper interconnects to the 0.10-micron process technology node (see May 1 story). The suits seek injunctions as well as damages for patent infringement and punitive damages for "willful infringement."
But in a separate U.S. case, Novellus on Monday announced Semitool had lost its appeal of a judgment in a three-year-old suit over patented technologies for electrochemical deposition (ECD).
In August 1998, Semitool sued Novellus claiming infringement of two U.S. patents covering ECD processes--or electroplating--after Novellus introduced its Sabre copper deposition system earlier that summer. Semitool lost that the case last year (see March 29 story), and on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision, according to Novellus. The appellate court also awarded costs to Novellus, according to the San Jose company.