April 3, 2007 – Akrion Inc. and Solid State Equipment Corp. (SSEC) are trading accusations over alleged infringement of several US patents that Akrion claims are incorporated in certain of SSEC’s single-wafer megasonic cleaning products.
“The company has every intention of protecting its intellectual property, particularly when it involves single-wafer megasonic-assisted cleaning,” stated Akrion president Jim Molinaro, in a press release. As of Sept. 2006 the company’s tool sales mix was roughly 50/50 batch immersion vs. single-wafer tools, but growth in the single-wafer segment is anticipated as more IC makers shift production to 90nm process technologies and beyond. Akrion filed a similar lawsuit against Product Systems Inc. in May 2006.
SSEC has fired back in its own statement, calling Akrion’s action inconsistent with a six-year history of offering licenses to SSEC for two of the patents at issue (which SSEC says it turned down, believing its megasonic scrubbing devices to be substantially different). “At no time during this six year period did Akrion provide SSEC with an explanation of why it believed that SSEC’s megasonic scrubbing device infringes any claim of any patent in which Akrion had a legitimate interest,” stated SSEC.
The company says that Akrion promised a response by Oct. 2006 but never replied until this week’s lawsuit, which asserts infringement of patents it didn’t bring up before and doesn’t explain how SSEC’s products infringe them. “Based upon the fundamental principles of fairness we will move forcefully and determinedly to protect our position in this matter,” SSEC said in a statement.