DALLAS -- STMicroelectronics today announced it was suing Atmel Corp. for alleged violations of nine U.S. patents covering technologies in memory chips, microcontrollers, and smart-card ICs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Texas.
Officials for STMicroelectronics, based near Geneva in France, did not reveal details about the U.S. lawsuit, except to list the U.S. patent numbers of technology covered in its case against Atmel. Officials with Atmel in San Jose said they have not yet received a copy of the U.S. lawsuit and could not comment on the specifics of the complaint.
However, Atmel officials said the company has checked the patents identified by STMicroelectronics in its announcement of the suit, and it has determined that patents are not being violated by Atmel.
"Often, competitors that are frightened of you in today's modern world will sue, which is regrettable," said George Perlegos, president and CEO of Atmel. "It is ironic that a European company is seeking competitive advantage through U.S. courts. Unfortunately, in today's world, legal actions are often one of the most important forms of corporate flattery. I believe this lawsuit is in direct response to the major inroads we are making with major European companies. I regret the ungentlemanly tactics of ST's legal team.''
In recent years, Atmel has increased its efforts in a number of STMicroelectronics' key market segments, including smart cards and microcontrollers. Atmel now maintains a large presence in the South of France and across Europe after its acquisitions of Motorola Inc.'s smart card chip operation in Scotland and the IC division of Germany's Temic Telefunken microelectronics GmbH. Atmel first moved into Europe with its 1995 purchase of European Silicon Structures (ES2) in Rousset, France, and now more than half of the company's workforce is based in Europe.
STMicro said the suit against Atmel is part of its efforts to protect the company's portfolio of more than 19,000 patents.