Spansion Files Patent Lawsuit Against Samsung

World's No. 3 maker of flash memory chips by revenue sued Samsung, claiming millions of consumer electronic devices made with Samsung’s flash memory chips violate Spansion patents.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Spansion Inc. wants to block U.S. sales of iPods, BlackBerry gadgets and other devices because memory chips made by Samsung Electronics Co. and used in those products allegedly violate Spansion patents.

Sunnyvale-based Spansion, the world's No. 3 maker of flash memory chips by revenue, sued South Korea's Samsung on Monday. Spansion claims more than "one hundred million mp3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and other consumer electronic devices" are made with Samsung flash memory chips that violate Spansion patents.

Samsung is the world's biggest memory-chip maker. Flash memory chips are widely used in portable electronics. They're popular because they access data quickly, require little power and are rugged enough to withstand drops without losing information.

Spansion claims Samsung has sold $30 billion worth of products over the past five years that contain patented Spansion technologies.

"Spansion has patents that are fundamental to flash memory. Samsung itself has cited these patents many times in its own patent filings, underscoring industry acceptance of the fundamental nature of Spansion's (intellectual property)," Robert Melendres, Spansion's executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Samsung issued a statement Tuesday saying it "forbids infringement and unauthorized use" of the intellectual property of other companies and "plans to respond actively to this litigation," according to Lee Eun-hee, a company spokeswoman.

The statement added that Samsung will continue to serve its customers "by ensuring that the accurate and reliable delivery of our products is not compromised in any way."

Spansion filed complaints with the International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court in Delaware. The company is asking for damages and for the court to ban sales in the U.S. of products with the affected Samsung chips.

Patent-infringement lawsuits often have high stakes but ultimately have little affect on consumers because they're settled out of court.

For example, a dispute that threatened to shut down service for millions of BlackBerry users was settled in 2006. Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry device, agreed to pay $612.5 million to a firm whose patented technologies covered a way to send e-mails between computers and wireless devices.

Spansion shares rose 16 cents, or 32 percent, to 66 cents in after-hours trading after its lawsuits were announced.

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