Beverly, Massachusetts–Axcelis Technologies, Inc., a semiconductor equipment manufacturer, has filed a lawsuit against Applied Materials, Inc. In its suit, Axcelis charges that Applied is using its patented technology unlawfully and asks the court to put a stop to it and to order Applied to pay money damages.
Specifically, Axcelis charges that Applied’s recently introduced medium current/high energy ion implanter machine infringes an Axcelis patent for ion implantation equipment using radio frequency linear accelerator (rf LINAC) technology. Ion implantation equipment is used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices.
The patentability of Axcelis’ invention has been confirmed twice during the past year by the U.S. Patent Office in response to challenges by an anonymous requester. The most recent of these rulings was issued on December 8, 2000. Axcelis believes that Applied anonymously initiated these challenges after having recognized the obstacle posed by Axcelis’ patent.
In addition, Axcelis brought two counts of tortious interference against Applied, charging that it unlawfully interfered with Axcelis’ existing and future contracts. Axcelis believes that Applied intentionally caused one of the inventors identified on its patent to breach a contract he has with Axcelis in which he promised, among other things, to “do everything legally possible to aid” Axcelis to “obtain and enforce proper patent protection in all countries,” while Applied has also interfered with Axcelis’ contractual relations with its customers.
Axcelis is asking the court not only to stop Applied from manufacturing, selling, or offering Axcelis’ patented technology for sale, but also to remove it from all implanters that Applied may have placed in chipmakers’ plants for process development trials. Axcelis also is asking the court to stop Applied from interfering with contractual business relationships Axcelis has with an inventor of the company’s rf LINAC technology and its potential customers.
Applied has not yet commented on the suit.