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TSMC Files Complaints Against GlobalFoundries in U.S., Germany and Singapore for Infringement of 25 Patents!

Daniel Nenni

Staff member
TSMC Files Complaints Against GlobalFoundries in U.S., Germany and Singapore for Infringement of 25 Patents to Affirm its Technology Leadership and to Protect Its Customers and Consumers Worldwide

Issued by: TSMC
Issued on: 2019/10/01

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Hsinchu, Taiwan R.O.C., Oct 1, 2019 - TSMC, the world’s leading global innovator in semiconductor manufacturing, filed multiple lawsuits on September 30, 2019 against GlobalFoundries in the United States, Germany and Singapore for its ongoing infringement of 25 TSMC patents by at least its 40nm, 28nm, 22nm, 14nm, and 12nm node processes. In the complaints, TSMC demands injunctions to stop GlobalFoundries’ manufacture and sale of infringing semiconductor products. TSMC also seeks substantial monetary damages from GlobalFoundries for its sale of infringing semiconductor products and unlawful use of TSMC’s patented semiconductor technologies.

The 25 TSMC patents in the complaints relate to a diverse set of technologies, including FinFET designs, shallow trench isolation techniques, double patterning methods, advanced seal rings and gate structures, and innovative contact etch stop layer designs. These specific technologies cover the core features of mature and advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes. The patents at issue comprise just a small portion of TSMC’s extensive portfolio that numbers more than 37,000 granted patents worldwide. TSMC was ranked one of the top 10 companies for U.S. patent grants last year, for the third consecutive year.
TSMC pioneered the dedicated semiconductor foundry model, enabling an entire fabless IC design industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States. Furthermore, TSMC plays a critical role in facilitating the global semiconductor supply chain. For example, TSMC collaborates with dozens of U.S.-based equipment suppliers, intellectual property (IP) core providers and electronic design automation (EDA) vendors. TSMC procured about US$20 billion in equipment and services from U.S. suppliers over the past 5 years. TSMC also spurs the next generation of semiconductor technology by working closely with U.S.-based customers, suppliers and prestigious universities. TSMC subsidiaries operate a manufacturing site in Washington State along with offices in California and Texas with over a thousand employees.

“TSMC’s patents reflect decades and tens of billions of dollars of investments in innovation, resulting in TSMC’s significant contribution to advancements in semiconductor manufacturing technology,” said Sylvia Fang, Vice President and General Counsel for TSMC. “TSMC’s lawsuits seek to protect our reputation, our significant investments, our nearly 500 customers, and consumers worldwide to ensure everyone benefits from the most advanced semiconductor technologies that enable a wide range of applications such as mobile, 5G, AI, IoT and high performance computing, which are critically important to the public interest.”

TSMC Spokesperson
Wendell Huang
Vice President & Chief Financial Officer & Spokesperson
Tel: 886-3-5055901

Acting Spokesperson
Elizabeth Sun
Senior Director, TSMC Corporate Communications Division
Tel: 886-3-5682085


Daniel Payne

The lawyers are going to get rich, and the two foundries will settle out of court, both claiming victory in the next 12 months or so. Such a common corporate tactic in high-tech to file countering complaints on patent violations.

Arthur Hanson

Active member
This whole mess just exposes the dire need for a true international patent system that is fair and transparent and obeys the rule of being non obvious to professionals in the field, which many, many patents actually issued would fail. A truly fair and transparent patent system would actually speed up progress. Also patent length should be set according to how innovative over current technology it actually is. A IP market should be set up like all other markets and I think the best model would be like the stock market with bid and ask determining value. This is just a simplistic start to a very important and complex set of problems that should be dealt with as the technological explosion created by compounding and several other factors takes place before our eyes.


I'm still confused by GF's strategy. Obviously they knew this would happen -- and potential impact to them is greater than to TSMC. (plus annoying potential customers who were also sued along the way)

Daniel Nenni

Staff member
The lawyers are going to get rich, and the two foundries will settle out of court, both claiming victory in the next 12 months or so. Such a common corporate tactic in high-tech to file countering complaints on patent violations.
It would be a cross license deal but you are right, the lawyers win every time.


The lawyers are going to get rich, and the two foundries will settle out of court, both claiming victory in the next 12 months or so. Such a common corporate tactic in high-tech to file countering complaints on patent violations.
How do you come out this 12-month estimate? I think it's a bit too quick to resolve it both ways. Globalfoundries is probably eager to end this quicker but TSMC might not be in a hurry to end their counter-suits. Thanks.

Daniel Nenni

Staff member
GLOBALFOUNDRIES and TSMC Announce Resolution of Global Disputes Through Broad Global Patent Cross-License

Santa Clara, CA and Hsinchu, Taiwan, R.O.C. Oct. 28, 2019 -- GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) and TSMC today announced they are dismissing all litigation between them as well as those that involve any of their customers. The companies have agreed to a broad life-of-patents cross-license to each other’s worldwide existing semiconductor patents as well as those patents that will be filed during the next ten years as both companies continue to invest significantly in semiconductor research and development.

This resolution guarantees GF and TSMC freedom to operate and ensures that their respective customers will continue to have access to each foundry's complete array of technologies and services.

“We are pleased to have quickly reached this settlement that acknowledges the strength of our respective intellectual property. Today’s announcement enables both of our companies to focus on innovation and to better serve our clients around the world,” said Thomas Caulfield, CEO of GF. “This agreement between GF and TSMC secures GF’s ability to grow and is a win for the entire semiconductor industry which is at the core of today’s global economy.”

“The semiconductor industry has always been highly competitive, driving the players to pursue innovation that enriched the lives of millions of people around the world. TSMC has invested tens of billions of dollars towards innovation to reach our leading position today,” said Sylvia Fang, General Counsel for TSMC. “The resolution is a positive development that keeps our focus on advancing the needs of our customers for technologies that will continue to bring innovation to life, enabling the entire semiconductor industry to thrive and prosper.”

GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) is the world’s leading specialty foundry. We deliver differentiated feature-rich solutions that enable our clients to develop innovative products for high-growth market segments. GF provides a broad range of platforms and features with a unique mix of design, development and fabrication services. With an at-scale manufacturing footprint spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia, GF has the flexibility and agility to meet the dynamic needs of clients across the globe. GF is owned by Mubadala Investment Company. For more information, visit

About TSMC
TSMC pioneered the pure-play foundry business model when it was founded in 1987, and has been the world’s largest dedicated semiconductor foundry ever since. The company supports a thriving ecosystem of global customers and partners with the industry’s leading process technology and portfolio of design enablement solutions to unleash innovation for the global semiconductor industry.

TSMC serves its customers with global capacity of more than 12 million 12-inch equivalent wafers per year in 2019, and provides the broadest range of technologies from 2 micron all the way to foundry’s most advanced processes, which is 7-nanometer today. TSMC is the first foundry to provide 7-nanometer production capabilities and the first to commercialize Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology in delivering customer products to market in high volume. TSMC is headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan. For more information about TSMC please visit

VP Global Communications
+1 (518) 265-4580