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Toshiba asks US to ban Hynix Flash imports

Patent clash

Toshiba has taken its patent violation claim against Hynix to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), asking the organisation to block the import of allegedly infringing NAND Flash - the kind of memory found in MP3 players like the iPod Nano - products into the US.

The complaint, noted in an Associated Press report, follows legal action brought by Toshiba against Hynix almost a year ago in the Japanese and US courts.

A lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court alleges Hynix wilfully infringed three of Toshiba's NAND Flash patents. The Japanese company wants the court to force Hynix to cough up damages for the transgression. A second suit, filed in the US District Court for Northern Texas, alleges infringement of four NAND patents and three others relating to DRAM.

Both cases arise out of failed negotiations between the two companies over the extension of an August 1996 semiconductor intellectual property cross-licensing deal. That agreement expired on 31 December 2002.

Last Friday, Hynix unveiled an aggressive NAND Flash roadmap which is set to see the company sample 70nm 16Gb (2GB) chips next month. Samsung is driving NAND Flash development too, having announced plans to ship 50nm 16Gb chips toward the end of 2006. Samsung is believed to be Apple's key Flash supplier. ®

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