Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC) today announced that the Fujian High Court in China has granted AMEC’s motion for an injunction against Veeco Instruments (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. (Veeco Shanghai). The injunction prohibits Veeco Shanghai from importing, manufacturing, selling or offering for sale to any third party any MOCVD systems and wafer carriers used in the MOCVD systems that would infringe AMEC’s patent CN 202492576 in China. The patent covers AMEC’s proprietary wafer carrier and spindle-locking and synchronization technology. The injunction covers Veeco’s TurboDisk EPIK 700 system, EPIK 700 C2 system, and EPIK 700 C4 system, as well as the related wafer carriers used in the MOCVD systems. AMEC believes that the ruling should also cover Veeco’s EPIK 868 system and related wafer carriers, since AMEC believes that the EPIK 868 system also uses AMEC’s patented technology involved in the action.
The ruling, which is unappealable, takes effect immediately. The stringent injunction terms expose the nature of Veeco Shanghai’s flagrant violation of AMEC’s intellectual property (IP) and confirms that Veeco Shanghai does not respect AMEC’s IP rights.
AMEC filed the patent infringement claim against Veeco Shanghai in the Fujian High Court on July 13th 2017. The motion requested a permanent injunction against Veeco Shanghai, as well as compensation for monetary damages of more than 100 million RMB Yuan (approx. US$15 million).
The injunction follows a previous victory for AMEC relating to the same action. When AMEC filed its claim in July, Veeco Shanghai responded by filing a patent invalidation request with the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB) of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in China. A second request to invalidate the same AMEC patent was filed concurrently by an individual. The PRB held separate hearings for the two requests. On Nov. 24th2017, the PRB dismissed both requests,thereby upholding the validity of the patent.
AMEC invested heavily in R&D and IP protection for this key technology. AMEC first developed the technology, filed a series of patents to protect the innovations, and installed equipment containing the technology at a number of LED production fabs in China. Veeco later followed by using the same locking approach in its MOCVD system to improve the tool’s performance. After AMEC filed the patent disputed by Veeco Shanghai, Veeco Instruments Inc. (Veeco US) submitted a similar patent application, and subsequently used this technology in its MOCVD system, thus infringing AMEC’s patent.
“The court’s ruling and the PRB’s decisions together confirm in no uncertain terms that AMEC’s technology contains unique innovations, and that our patent portfolio is comprehensive, robust and highly valuable,” said Dr. Zhiyou Du, Senior Vice President, COO & General Manager of AMEC’s MOCVD Product Division. “We are very pleased with the court’s decision. We take IP enforcement seriously, and we will not tolerate any violation of our IP rights. Indeed, we will aggressively pursue instances of infringement, and vigorously protect our IP portfolio.”
Dr. Du continued: “As a supplier of high-end micro-fabrication equipment to leading global manufacturers of ICs, LEDs and power devices, AMEC attaches great importance to IP protection. Since our founding in 2004, we have independently developed unique technologies to enable our customers worldwide. Therefore, for more than a decade, we have defended our IP in domestic and international jurisdictions when challenged, and prevailed in every case. We respect the IP of our customers and competitors, and we expect the same regard for our IP.”
In a separate development, AMEC filed a motion on Dec. 8th 2017 to invalidate a Veeco patent with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent, US 6,726,769 filed in 2001, covers a detachable wafer carrier technology. It was asserted in an infringement action initiated in the US by Veeco US against AMEC’s supplier of wafer carriers for MOCVD systems. AMEC believes that the Veeco patent is invalid because the technology was definitively and clearly disclosed in many prior patents and publications as far back as the early 1960s. Therefore, the Veeco patent does not meet standard patent law requirements. Besides filing to invalidate the patent in the US, AMEC has already filed motions to invalidate counterpart patent families in China and South Korea.
AMEC intends to also challenge a second Veeco US patent (US 6,506,252) involved in the same US infringement action. A motion to that effect will soon be filed with the PTAB.
Dr. Gerald Yin, Chairman and CEO of AMEC, said: “We are confident that AMEC will prevail in its action against Veeco Shanghai, and that Veeco Shanghai will be required to pay for the enormous cost of its infringement beginning in 2014 when Veeco US launched its EPIK 700 system. In addition, we believe that our supplier will eventually prevail in its US case.”
Dr. Yin further noted: “AMEC is an innovative company with extensive expertise in providing breakthrough technologies that enable customers with competitive advantages. Our products have earned market success for their differentiation and value. Naturally, we prefer to focus our efforts on providing such innovative products and stellar service to customers instead of wasting time and resources on litigation. That’s why we’re fully committed to reaching a positive resolution with Veeco, and working diligently to achieve that goal.”