Infineon Technologies and Micron Technology have filed petitions with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) alleging that South Korean producer Hynix Semiconductor is dumping DRAM on the global market.
The petitions claim that Hynix is being supported with billions of dollars in government subsidies, which allow the company to price its products at artificially low prices.
The actions by Micron and Infineon come a week after Japanese chipmakers Hitachi, NEC, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric announced they were considering filing DRAM dumping claims against Hynix.
Hynix was formed from the combined chip operations of Hyundai and LG Semiconductor and is meeting with Korean banks this week to discuss a new financial rescue package.
Hynix has $6.5bn debt and is reeling from the impact of the worst downturn in sales in the IC industry's 50 year history. It has already been saved from bankruptcy twice this year with some $7bn in loans and debt guarantees.
Infineon and Micron are pushing for action under the WTO's countervailing duties procedure, which prohibit subsidies for exports.
While the WTO has no power to launch legal action on its own, the chipmakers hope that a finding in their favour under the procedure could be enough to influence the South Korean government.
A full scale WTO case against South Korea could be the next step in the case.
Micron and other chipmakers are pushing for action against Hynix which they acknowledge could force the company out of business.
"During these types of downturns there historically has been an almost natural evolution in which excess production is winnowed down," said Micron spokesman Sean Mahoney. "By any standard, Hynix is insolvent and it is only the support of Korean banks that is creating a false sense of viability."
Hynix said last week it would cut costs further by shedding 20% of its overseas staff and putting its 14000 employees on unpaid leave for one month.
The Japanese dumping allegations also cite Samsung Electronics.
Samsung is aggressively looking to boost its share of the DRAM market.
The company has just started mass DRAM production on a 300mm wafer line and is also beginning to mass produce 512Mbit double-data-rate SDRAM.
Chang-Gyu Hwang, president of Samsung's Semiconductor Memory Division said this week;, "Our memory division semiconductor operations will achieve annual sales of $20bn in 2005 by diversifying our memory product portfolio and maximizing our competitiveness.
"We are now applying 300mm wafers to our memory chip mass production and have begun mass-producing 512Mbit DRAMs to upgrade our lineup and satisfy demand for higher-capacity memory products."