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Posted: Feb 08, 2011
Xitronix Wins Patent Infringement Case Against KLA-Tencor
(Nanowerk News) Xitronix Corporation, a developer of advanced measurement systems designed to control key process steps in the manufacturing of semiconductors, today announced it has received a final judgment invalidating KLA-Tencor Corporation patent claims against the company.
In the litigation before the Federal Court in Austin, Texas, originally filed on September 24, 2008, KLA-Tencor alleged that Xitronix had infringed on its patents, and sought a permanent injunction against Xitronix. Instead, a jury found that KLA-Tencor's asserted claims were invalid and that Xitronix did not infringe.
"We are excited to announce our victory against KLA-Tencor and focus now on bringing Xitronix' unique process control solution to the semiconductor industry," said Judd Chism, CEO and a founding member of Xitronix. "From the outset, we were confident that we would win. Our technology provides a clear competitive advantage to leading-edge manufacturers which cannot be achieved using other technologies."
The technology at the center of the case was Xitronix' non-destructive photo-modulated reflectance (PMR) solution that enables process control measurements to be performed quickly, cost-effectively and accurately to enhance production and yield for semiconductor manufacturers.
Xitronix' XP700 system is a high throughput, fully automated 300mm measurement system designed to meet the production needs of advanced process semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. The Xitronix XP700 incorporates the proven dopant activation and strain measurement capabilities of Xitronix PMR technology in a fully automated platform suited for real-time process control.
"Our technology clearly solves a new and unmet process control requirement in semiconductor manufacturing. The Xitronix PMR technology is a game-changer for manufacturers seeking to control the material and electronic properties of semiconductor nanostructures," said Will Chism, Ph.D., CTO and a founder of Xitronix, as well as the inventor of the technology.
"We are excited to be in a position to now fully pursue the market potential. Our customers can be assured that we are the sole source provider for the technology," continued Will Chism.
Xitronix developed the technology in response to the semiconductor industry's focus on engineering properties as chips become increasingly smaller and reach physical limits. The Xitronix solution is able to measure material properties quickly and precisely in a non-destructive manner, thus increasing yield by ensuring correct production early in the manufacturing process.
"We believe KLA-Tencor's motivation for the litigation was purely a competitive concern and not a desire to protect intellectual property. Once we got into discovery, there were obvious problems with the validity of the patents being asserted," said Steve Hershberger, lead trial attorney for Xitronix, who is in private practice in Midland, Texas.
Ross Garsson, attorney with Austin-based Matheson Keys Garsson & Kordzik PLLC, served as lead patent attorney for Xitronix.
Headquartered in Austin, Xitronix is now turning its focus to fully bring its XP700 system to market. Xitronix plans to ramp operations up by adding seven positions to its roster in the Austin area and twelve positions worldwide over the next six months.
"When we originally began to introduce the PMR technology to major manufacturers in 2007, we garnered a great deal of excitement and interest. The infringement case put our efforts on hold; however, the demand is even greater today. Our near-term focus will be on key early adopters who understand the competitive advantage afforded by our technology," continued Judd Chism.
Xitronix has raised a total of $2.4 million since its inception, including a $500,000 award from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.