DALLAS - A U.S. District Court in Dallas ruled May 10 that three California firms willfully infringed on two Texas Instruments Inc. patents by selling semiconductor devices made using TI's plastic encapsulation process. A jury awarded TI $51.8 million in damages. Because the infringement was ruled willful, Judge Barefoot Sanders also has the option to treble the damages and order the defendants to pay Dalls-based TI's lawyers' fees.
The jury ordered Cypress Semiconductor Corp. of San Jose, Calif., to pay $17.8 million in damages; LSI Logic Corp. of Milpitas, Calif., to pay $14.6 million in damages; and VLSI Technology Inc. of San Jose to pay $19.4 million in damages.
The patented technology provided semiconductor device manufacturers with a reliable alternative to expensive ceramic packaging and made integrated circuits more affordable.
The patents covered a method of injecting molten plastic through a gate in the bottom half of a mold cavity containing the device. The process, called bottom-gating, is the packaging process most broadly used by the semiconductor industry.
The U.S. International Trade Commission in 1992 ruled in favor of TI, finding that the same three firms had imported devices made using the patented technology.