Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC) today announced that the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB) of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in China, ruled on Jan. 23 that all patent claims relating to patent number ZL 01822507.1 held by Veeco Instruments Inc. (Veeco U.S.), and titled “Susceptorless reactor for growing epitaxial layers on wafers by chemical vapor deposition”, are invalid. The court cited “lack of novelty and non-obviousness” for its decision.
The patent ruled invalid is the Chinese counterpart of the patents (U.S. 6506252 and U.S. 6726769) asserted by Veeco U.S. in an infringement action taken last year against AMEC’s wafer carrier supplier, and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
AMEC thoroughly analyzed the patent when first developing its MOCVD technology. The company found that the technology covered by the patent was preceded by substantial prior art dating back to the 1960s. As such, the patent should be invalid. AMEC had earlier filed petitions to invalidate the counterpart patents in the Intellectual Property (IP) offices of China, South Korea and the U.S.
“We are pleased that based on our compelling evidence, the Chinese Patent Re-examination Board has ruled Veeco’s patent invalid,” said Dr. Zhiyou Du, senior vice president, COO & general manager of AMEC’s MOCVD product division. “We are confident that the same decision will be reached by the Patent Trial and Appeal Boards of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and the Korean IP office.”
Dr. Du continued: “To be enforceable, a patent must meet the requirements of patent law. It is intolerable to us that Veeco U.S. would attempt to stifle competition by leveraging an obviously invalid patent to file a lawsuit against AMEC’s wafer carrier supplier.”
In a separate development that occurred on Jan. 12, 2018, Chinese customs temporarily detained two EPIK700 MOCVD tools upon their arrival in China. The tools, shipped by Veeco Asia, are suspected of infringing AMEC’s patent (CN 202492576). The detention was consistent with Chinese law. AMEC is contemplating further legal action, which may include filing a patent infringement lawsuit with the Chinese court.
The enforcement action by Chinese customs on Jan. 12 followed a ruling last Dec. by the Fujian High Court in Chinawhen it granted AMEC’s motion for an injunction against 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 in China.
Dr. Gerald Yin, chairman and CEO of AMEC stated: “AMEC will never tolerate infringement of its IP rights. We will vigorously defend against violations and will always proactively protect our IP investment. Of course, we prefer to concentrate on innovating high-value products and providing quality services to customers instead of wasting time and resources on lawsuits.”
Dr. Yin concluded: “The Chinese LED industry should not be distracted or harmed by litigation involving Veeco U.S., our wafer carrier supplier, and AMEC. Therefore, we are open to reaching a solution that is beneficial for all three parties.”