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Baker's dozen of chip makers hit by lawsuit

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Thirteen Asian chip makers are facing legal action over alleged patent infringement by two New York chip designers. Plasma Physics and Solar Physics yesterday revealed they had filed the suit against some of the biggest Japanese and South Korean vendors regarding chip making and flat-panel technologies. Those targeted include Fujitsu, Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric, Advanced Display, NEC, Oki Electric Industry, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba. The patents involve the work of maverick inventor John Coleman, president of both Plasma and Solar, Reuters reported. Two of the patents in the legal action cover chip manufacture using plasma chemical vapour deposition. The third involves the structure of TFT LCDs, used in the booming flat screen industry. The plaintiffs aim to stop the chip manufacturers from making any product infringing on the patents, and are seeking cash damages which include interest, treble damages and legal fees. The suit, filed on 28 December at the Eastern District of New York in Uniondale, NY, has been assigned to Judge Arthur Spatt. The lawyers enlisted from firm Fish & Neave – Herbert Schwartz, Edward Mullowney and Patricia Martone – are famed for winning the biggest patent infringement award ever. In 1989, they ensured Eastman Kodak forked out $925 million for stepping on Polaroid's toes. The law firm was also involved in Intel's 1997 case, where it was sued by Digital Equipment for patent infringement over Digital's Alpha PC chips. ®

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