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Supreme Court sides with SanDisk in Flash clash

Defendants must answer allegations

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Ritek, Memorex and Pretec must go back to court and face up to SanDisk's allegations that they infringed one of its Flash memory card patents, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

The trio were sued by SanDisk in October 2001 for allegedly infringing its patent, number 5,602,987. Three years later, they successfully persuaded the District Court of Northern California, Judge Vaughn Walker presiding, to chuck out the case. Unsurprisingly, SanDisk appealed against the decision, and in July 2005 the Court of Appeals sided with the US company.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the key inventive features of the patent shouldn't have been dismissed by the District Court, and consequently said the case must go back there and be re-evaluated.

SanDisk is currently pursuing STMicroelectronics for allegedly infringing two other Flash-related patents it holds. However, its case recently took a blow when the US International Trade Commission ruled that STMicro's products did not infringe patent number 5,172,338. SanDisk's allegation that STMicro has also violated patent number 5,991,517 has yet to come to court. ®

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