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KAIST IP sues Samsung for using FinFET Technology in their Next-Gen Processors

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In mid-October Patently Apple posted a report titled "Samsung to Kick-Off 2017 with the World's First 10nm CPU Powering their Galaxy S8." Samsung's new processor will use what is known in the industry as FinFET technology. It was reported in Korea yesterday that the Intellectual Property arm of KAIST has filed a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm and Global Foundries in a Texas court, claiming they used KAIST's chip technology without permission. Texas is where Samsung's Austin chip plant is located.


KAIST is a state-run research institute set up in 1971 with the aim of improving Korea's research and innovation science and technology.


At issue is FinFet, which is a key technology for making processors for smartphones. FinFet is a kind of transistor designed to improve the performance of semiconductors and reduce its power consumption. It was first developed by Lee Jong-ho, a professor of Seoul National University in partnership with KAIST.


KAIST IP claimed that it had proposed the technology to both Samsung Electronics and Intel, upon which Samsung invited Lee to carry out a presentation for the company's engineers. Intel obtained licenses of the technology for its product. KAIST IP claims that Samsung, on the other hand, turned down the proposal but later developed its own technology that KAIST alleges is identical to Finfet.


A KAIST IP official told the Korean publications that "Samsung was able to reduce the development time and cost by copying Lee's invention without cost. (Samsung) has continued copying Lee's invention without authority or proper compensation."


Alongside Samsung Electronics, KAIST IP sued California-based semiconductor foundry Global Foundries, which is also using the technology through a license agreement with Samsung. California-based chip designer Qualcomm, a client of both Samsung and Global Foundries, is also facing a lawsuit.


KAIST pointed out that Intel is currently providing royalties for using their finFET patent.


While KAIST told the publication that it may also sue Apple's chip supplier TSMC, they have admitted that they've yet to secure enough evidence to proceed. According to Wikipedia, many companies have been working FinFET or similar multigate transistors including AMC, TSMC, Infineon, Berkley and others.


Samsung has declined to comment as the lawsuit is ongoing.


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