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FormFactor patents invalid, SK Supreme Court rules

Posted: 30 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:patent infringement? intellectual property? wafer probe?

The South Korea Supreme Court issued an oral ruling that 12 claims of FormFactor's Korean Patent No.252457 are invalid, and ordering the case to be taken back to the Korean Patent Court for further proceedings consistent with the ruling.

The decision, however, does not specifically address the remaining 48 claims of Patent No. 252457, or FormFactor's infringement claims against Phicom Corp. Following normal practice, the bases for the ruling were not given and a written opinion explaining the ruling will typically be expected in one to three weeks.

"Once we receive the Korea Supreme Court's written decision on our Korea Patent No. 252457, we will consider the scope of any resumed Patent Court validity proceedings and evaluate the impact of the decision on our remaining Korea infringement actions," said Stuart Merkadeau, FormFactor's senior VP, general counsel. "As a technology company that makes significant investments in innovation, it is important that we continue to take steps to protect our intellectual property. We believe this latest decision from the Korean courts will not materially impact our pending action before the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is a part of our global strategy to protect our intellectual property against unauthorized use."

FormFactor's advanced wafer probe card products and solutions are designed to reduce consumers' overall cost of test and enable their technology roadmaps. The company believes the announced ruling will have no immediate business impact.

FormFactor's Korea Patent No. 252457 was issued by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) in 2000. In 2004, the Intellectual Property Tribunal Panel at KIPO upheld the patent against Phicom's challenge, and in 2006, the Korea Patent Court re-confirmed the validity of the patent by dismissing Phicom's appeal of the IPT panel decision.

It was after these earlier reviews of Korea Patent No. 252457 that the Korea Supreme Court found issues with the patent claims and directed the Patent Court to revisit patent validity. FormFactor's infringement claims in Korea against Phicom, which were filed February 24, 2004 with the Seoul Southern District Court (Patent Nos. 278342, 399210) and in Aug. 8, 2006 with the Seoul Central District Court (Patent No. 252457), are still pending.

In 2007, the Supreme Court issued a decision holding invalid certain claims from FormFactor's Korea Patent Nos. 278342 and 399210, and a 2008 Korea Supreme Court decision held invalid certain claims of the company's Korea Patent No. 324064. The Supreme Court decisions have addressed the validity of some, but not all, of the Korea patent claims FormFactor is asserting against Phicom. FormFactor has appealed a 2008 decision of the Seoul Southern District Court which found certain claims of FormFactor's Korea Patent No. 252457 and 324064 either invalid or not infringed.

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