A court ruling this week in the ongoing patent infringement squabble between Taiwan's Macronix and US-based Spansion has, at least on the face of it, done little to settle the legal wranglings between the two embedded systems vendors.
For now, however, Spansion has at least won one battle in the fight.
Earlier this week, on March 11, the United States District Court of Virginia issued two orders, both landing on Spansion's side of the argument. The first order dismissed the case against Spansion, saying Macronix did not uphold the burden of proof required to prove patent infringement. In the second order, the court said that it will transfer any other complaints filed by Macronix to the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, a move that would delay any decisions by at least a year.
Spansion issued a statement claiming its rival has not proven its legal case.
"Since this is the second time that the court in Virginia has dismissed Macronix's complaint against Spansion for this exact same reason, it is obvious that Macronix filed this case only to deflect attention from the suit filed by Spansion against Macronix with the International Trade Commission (ITC)," said Ali Pourkeramati, senior vice president of Spansion, in a press release. "Macronix should heed the warning of the court in this case and avoid claims that lack even a plausible theory of liability."
However, the seven patent infringement suit has not been completely settled.
"No one should be misled by Spansion's press releases into believing that Spansion and its customers have escaped any liability for infringement of Macronix's patents," said Arthur Yang, president of Macronix America, Inc., in a written statement. "We are pleased that the judge found that Macronix's allegations that Spansion willfully infringed Macronix's patents are sufficient."
The battle began last summer when Spansion filed complaints against Macronix, alleging that the company had violated its patents with Macronix NOR Flash and XtraROM memory products. Further, Spansion has committed to moving against any memory company or system vendor that "misuses its technology without getting consensus from the company," EE Times reported.
In December, Macronix responded with its own filing with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), for infringement of three Macronix patents covering separate aspects of non-volatile memory devices, including flash memory.
The fight was also taken to the court of public opinion as both companies issued statements and releases defending their positions, as EE Times reported earlier this year. "Unfolding in the public eye is a spectacle of competing flash memory chip vendors at each other’s throat, with no sign that either will budge from its claims. At risk are the credibility and public image of both and, most important, the trust of their customers," EE Times Chief International Correspondent Junko Yoshida wrote at the time.
Hearings with the ITC on the Macronics/Spansion matters have been scheduled for the end of May 2014.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, , Editor in Chief, UBM's EBN