Taiwan chip maker UMC claims court victory against USA rival Micron


Fujian Jinhua also issued a statement on Tuesday saying the court had ruled against Micron.

UMC took legal action against Micron in January, alleging that the USA company infringed on patents in China related to memory storage and other products.

The dispute follows a ban on US firms supplying parts to China's telecom equipment maker ZTE as well as the drawn-out wait for Chinese regulators to approve Qualcomm Inc's $44 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors.

The ban, along with a separate antitrust probe by China in early June against Micron and two South Korean chipmakers, SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics, are all "politically connected and intertwined", said Arisa Liu, an analyst with Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, a leading nonprofit think tank in Taiwan, in an interview with Japanese magazine Nikkei Asian Review.

"The Fuzhou Court issued this preliminary ruling before allowing Micron an opportunity to present its defense", said Joel Poppen, Micron's general counsel. Micron, naturally, disagrees with UMC's claims, and in an interesting twist has issued a statement of its own claiming to have not yet been served with any such injunction. The court declined to comment on the case and said injunctions were not posted publicly.

The U.S. firm filed a civil lawsuit in December in California, accusing UMC and Chinese partner Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co of stealing design and manufacturing technologies related to its DRAM chips.

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As evidence, Micron cited the use of Micron DRAM technology code names at a UMC and Jinhua recruitment fair for RAM chip experts in Silicon Valley in October 2016 and its discovery that its employees poached by UMC had copied confidential information before leaving the company.

The ruling is expected to help UMC build a good record that will help it secure regulatory approval from China to publicly list a subsidiary on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, dealers said.

The move comes after UMC took Micron to the Chinese courts over patent infringement claims.

In the semiconductor industry, experts say that China pursuing the rapid growth of the Chinese semiconductor industry sided with the Chinese company. "So they have to import anyway", Greg Roh, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities, told Reuters in an interview.

Shares of Micron, which fell 5.5 percent on Tuesday after the ban, was up 1.9 percent at $52.46 in afternoon trading on Thursday.

As of 11:42 a.m., shares of UMC had gained 0.56 percent to NT$18.05 (US$0.58), with 81.87 million shares changing hands, outperforming the broader market index, which was down 0.12 percent at 10,702.91.