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UMC fingers SIS

'Systematic abuse of patents'

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Two Taiwanese chip makers are squaring up for a fight over intellectual property rights.

United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) has filed a lawsuit in San Jose against Silicon Integrated Systems (SIS), claiming that SIS got into the chip making business by 'engaging in a systematic pattern of abuse of UMC's intellectual property rights, including patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of confidentiality agreements and unfair competition.'

The suit also accuses SIS of unfair competition, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

UMC is seeking a court order prohibiting SIS from further violations along with monetary damages.

"UMC intends to protect to the fullest extent of the law the intellectual property that we have spent hundreds of millions of US dollars and countless man hours of engineering and manufacturing effort over the past twenty years to develop," said John Hsuan, UMC chairman. "We believe that intellectual property is the cornerstone of our success, and know that technological prowess comes only as a result of substantial and independent effort.

"We cannot sit still while other companies take our people and abuse our proprietary information to launch into the business without making the investments and engineering work required to secure advanced technology legitimately. We do not believe modern industry will tolerate those who seek shortcuts to success through the misuse of intellectual property belonging to others."

The lawsuit claims that SIS had no knowledge of semiconductor design before entering into contracts with UMC that built chips on behalf of SIS. In 1999 SIS announced plans to build a fab that was opened 'in record time'.

UMC says this was unusual as even experienced chip makers such as IBM, Texas Instruments and Philips would have found it difficult to get such a complex project off the ground so quickly.

SIS was unavailable for comment at press time. ®

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