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Posted: January 3, 2007
First legal disputes over nanotechnology patents emerging
(Nanowerk News) In what may become an increasingly frequent occurence of nanotechnology commercialization, a supplier of sophisticated polishing compounds has announced plans to pursue a patent infringement enforcement action against a rival over a nanotech application.
On December 12, 2006, Cabot Microelectronics announced a plan to take legal action against DuPont Air Products NanoMaterials LLC (DA Nano).
Cabot Microelectronics announced its plan in response to a complaint filed on December 8 by DA Nano in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona seeking declaratory relief and alleging non-infringement, invalidity and unenforceability of some of the Cabot Microelectronics patents at issue. The complaint follows Cabot Microelectronics' refusal of DA Nano's request to be granted a license to the Cabot Microelectronics patents raised in the complaint. Cabot Microelectronics believes that the complaint is wholly without merit and anticipates responding to it and filing a counterclaim for patent infringement shortly. DA Nano's complaint does not allege any infringement by Cabot Microelectronics' products of intellectual property owned by DA Nano.
"Cabot Microelectronics remains committed to the enforcement of our intellectual property and protection of our significant investment in patent-protected research and development", stated H. Carol Bernstein, Cabot Microelectronics' Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel. "We believe certain of DA Nano's products infringe our tungsten CMP technology, and we are disappointed that thus far they have refused to switch to non-infringing technology. We look forward to the successful resolution of this litigation."
At issue is the process used in the manufacture and sale of the slurry polishing compound and pad products needed in chemical mechanical planarization (CMP), which flattens silicon wafers to near-perfect smoothness. This enables multiple layers of intricate circuitry to be built upon the wafer surface and results in high-performance chips that are the brains of today's electronics infrastructure. Likewise, the CMP process used for rigid disks media results in a high-quality, mirror-like finish that enables high-density storage of data on the rigid disk-essential for today's memory-intensive computer operating systems and multi-media application software. Cabot uses a proprietary Advanced Nanoscale Surface Technology which is designed to deliver Angstrom level finishes.
Earlier this year, Cabot Microelectronics successfully concluded a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) patent action against Cheil Industries, Inc. concerning some of the same patents currently at issue with DA Nano.