U.S. launches patent probe into flash memory chips in laptops, gaming devices

WASHINGTON, (PNA/Xinhua) — The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday opened a probe into flash memory chips made by Acer, Nintendo and some other IT companies after an American company filed a complaint with it alleging its patents had been infringed upon.

The products at issue are flash memory chips used in devices such as laptops, wireless routers, video game consoles, handheld gaming devices, and game cartridges, said the bipartisan trade panel ITC in a statement.

Spansion LLC based in Sunnyvale, California, filed a complaint on Aug.1 with the ITC, claiming the flash memory chips made by seven IT companies have infringed upon its patents and violated the Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. It thus requested the ITC to issue a general exclusion order and to cease and desist orders against those products.

The seven companies are Macronix, Acer, Asus, Belkin, D-Link, Netgear and Nintendo.

The investigation does not mean the ITC has made any decision on the merits of the case. Within 45 days, the body will set a target date for completing the investigation.

Should the complaint be approved, the panel will issue a ban on importation of accused products, but during the subsequent 60-day review period the Obama administration can veto the order.

Section 337 investigations focus on allegations of patent or registered trademark infringement, and also involve misappropriation of aspects such as trade secrets, false advertising, and violation of the antitrust laws. Most cases handled last year involved high-tech or small electronics products.