在尼康表示将用法律手段维权后，蔡司与ASML首先都对外宣称尼康的法律行动毫无根据，并且断然否认任何侵权行为。不过，一位来自ASML的发言人则表示，公司此前已经多次尝试与尼康方面协商有关延长交叉许可协议的问题。而作为应对，现在两家公司也打算反过来联手起诉尼康，并要求其为侵犯超过10项专利技术的行为进行赔偿。最后，ASML的CEO Peter Wennink还表示，尼康自始至终都没有严肃地参与到两家公司间有关许可协议的谈判中。如今尼康把这件事闹到了法庭，这使得ASML不得不执行我们的专利组合。
Japan's Nikon Corp on Monday said it has initiated legal action against ASML Holding NV and Carl Zeiss AG [CZTOP.UL], saying the Dutch and Germany companies used its lithography technology without its permission.
Nikon, the world's eighth-largest chip equipment maker, said it had filed patent infringement cases in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan against ASML, which makes semiconductor lithography machines, and Carl Zeiss, ASML's optical supplier.
"ASML and Zeiss employ Nikon's patented technology in ASML's lithography systems, which are used globally to manufacture semiconductors, without Nikon's permission, thereby infringing Nikon's patents," Nikon said in a statement.
Nikon said it is seeking damages and to prevent ASML and Zeiss from selling the technology.
ASML dominates the market for semiconductor lithography machines, which map out electronic circuits on silicon wafers. The Netherlands-based firm has a 90 percent market share in such high-end machines, according to a January research report from Fitch Ratings.
"Nikon's litigation is unfounded, unnecessary and creates uncertainty for the semiconductor industry," said ASML President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink. ASML has repeatedly attempted to negotiate an extension of a cross-license agreement with Nikon, he said.
The legal action comes after mediation carried out by a retired judge in the United States failed to reach a settlement late last year, Nikon said.
Carl Zeiss was not immediately available to comment.
The dispute is the latest involving the three, with ASML and Carl Zeiss paying Nikon $87 million and $58 million respectively in 2004, according to Nikon.
ASML Files Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Nikon - ASML Forced to Go to Court After Nikon Fails to Seriously Negotiate
ASML today announced that it is filing initial legal claims against Nikon for infringement of more than 10 patents, related to a broad range of products in the fields of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, flat panel display manufacturing equipment and digital cameras. This follows Nikon’s announcement on April 24, 2017, that it has sued ASML. ASML categorically denies infringing any of Nikon’s patents.
ASML has today filed suits in Japan, both on its own and jointly with its strategic partner ZEISS. Additional suits will be brought in the United States.
Peter Wennink, ASML President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We have no choice but to file these countersuits. We have tried for many years to come to a cross-license agreement that reflects the increased strength of our patent portfolio. Unfortunately, Nikon has never seriously participated in negotiations. Now that Nikon has decided to take this dispute to court, we also have to enforce our patent portfolio, and we will do this as broadly as possible.”
ASML has been confronted with Nikon’s claims of supposed patent infringement before. In 2001, Nikon went to the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC). Two years later, the Commission found no violation and ASML won on all 15 accounts. ASML and Nikon subsequently settled in a cross-license agreement that allowed both companies to focus on further developing products and serving chipmakers, without the unnecessary distraction of an intellectual property dispute. Some patents were perpetually licensed; for others, the license period ended on 31 December 2009. A transitional period, during which the parties had agreed not to bring suit, ended on 31 December 2014. Nikon’s patent portfolio was larger than the portfolio of ASML and ZEISS in 2004, a situation which is now reversed.
Over the last decade, ASML has been very successful in the market place and is recognized as a technology leader due to its ability to deliver superior value and system performance. Through sustained high investment in Research and Development totaling more than EUR 8 billion since 2004, ASML built up a strong portfolio of more than 10,000 patent rights. The application of these innovations has been adopted by all of the world’s largest chipmakers.
ZEISS submits patent complaints against Nikon
ZEISS filed lawsuits against Nikon for patent infringement in more than ten cases. These concern various products from the fields of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and digital cameras. Previously, Nikon had announced a patent complaint against ZEISS last Monday, April 24, 2017. ZEISS categorically rejects the alleged patent infringements.
ZEISS and its strategic partner ASML are acting individually and jointly in the patent applications filed in Japan. Further complaints in the USA will follow.
ZEISS submits these counterclaims after the company has tried in vain to extend an existing cross-license agreement with Nikon over many years. Nikon did not want to conduct any serious negotiations and instead chose the right way. In order to protect its intellectual property and its market position, ZEISS therefore had no choice but to proceed against the unauthorized use of its patents with these counterclaims.
ZEISS holds more than 7,000 patents in many countries worldwide. The global technology leader in optics and optoelectronics is a pioneer in microscopy, medical technology and lithography.
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