Another day, another front opens for embattled Toshiba
US agency to probe patent violation claim by Taiwan chipmaker
TOKYO -- The U.S. International Trade Commission will investigate a complaint by a Taiwanese chipmaker that flash memory products made by Toshiba infringe on its patents, the agency said Thursday.
The independent quasi-judicial agency handles claims of intellectual property rights violations related to American imports. The commission can halt the import or sale of products if it finds that infringement has occurred. The agency entered the spotlight a few years ago when Samsung Electronics sought such a ban on some Apple smartphones amid a dispute over patents.
Since the Toshiba investigation may affect product sales in the U.S., it could factor into the price paid for Toshiba Memory, the chip unit the Japanese company is moving to sell, said Taro Isshiki, an attorney well-versed in American law.
The commission typically aims to conclude investigations within 16 months, though extensions are permitted. The agency is not supposed to consider political factors, but the president can overturn its decisions.
Big chipmakers with numerous technology patents license them to peers. Legal complaints against these companies by upstarts lacking such licenses are often dismissed. Toshiba does not expect the case brought by Macronix International to affect bidding for its memory chip unit, a senior official said.