February 28, 2011 / 9:59 PM / in 7 years

ITC judge rules for Samsung in Spansion patent spat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A trade panel judge ruled for South Korean chipmaker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in its battle with Spansion Inc over flash memory chips, the International Trade Commission said on Monday.

The full commission is expected to decide in June whether it will accept or reject the agency judge’s preliminary decision.

Samsung filed suit against Spansion, accusing it of infringing two patents for its methods of making flash memory semiconductor chips. It also named in its complaint several companies that buy Spansion chips.

Judge Carl Charneski, an administrative law judge at the ITC, said he found that Spansion infringed one Samsung patent.

Samsung had asked that all products made with the chips be barred from the United States.

The International Trade Commission is an independent body that, among other duties, hears patent disputes involving imported products.

Spansion, for its part, has also accused Samsung of infringing its patents. In December, the ITC ruled Samsung Electronics did not infringe Spansion chips.

Spansion also accused companies that bought Samsung chips — including Apple Inc and Research in Motion Ltd — of infringement.

Spansion filed a second complaint at the ITC in September. That lawsuit named as respondents Samsung, Apple, Nokia Corp, Research In Motion and others. A related action has been filed in U.S. district courts in California and Virginia.

Spansion filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009 as global chipmakers struggled with the sector’s worst downturn in decades. It emerged from bankruptcy in May 2010.

Spansion was once the global leader in a type of flash memory called NOR, which is used for storing code that runs devices.

Unlike older chips, flash memory chips can store data such as telephone numbers and music recordings even when the device’s power is turned off. Flash memory is found in most consumer electronics.

Editing by Andre Grenon

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