[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics confirmed on Jan. 2 that US semiconductor firm BiTMICRO has filed a complaint against it and other global tech firms, including SK hynix, Dell and Lenovo, for infringing intellectual property rights.
A Samsung spokesperson noted that the firm will “respond after thoroughly reviewing the case.”
The US chip company, which produces solid-state drives, claims that Samsung and SK hynix violated Section 377 of the Tariff Act of 1930.
The section declares the infringement of a US patent, copyright, registered trademark, or mask work to be an unlawful practice in import trade. It also declares unlawful other unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation and subsequent sale of products in the US, the threat or effect of which is to destroy or substantially injure a domestic industry, prevent the establishment of such an industry, or restrain or monopolize trade and commerce in the country.
The US International Trade Commission usually decides on whether to launch an investigation in 30 days upon receiving a complaint.
Some market watchers said the latest complaint is intended to undermine its Korean competitors, as BiTMICRO -- a leader in the SSD market in the early 2000s -- has been losing ground to Samsung and SK hynix.
Samsung is the world’s No. 1 SSD maker with a 30 percent market share, while SK hynix is ranked seventh, according to industry data.
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) has also warned of the increasing number of complaints related to US trade laws.
According to data compiled by the state-run trade and investment promotion organization, the ITC probed 54 cases in 2016, up from 36 a year earlier. Until the third quarter last year, the US trade watchdog looked into 39 IP infringement cases involving Korean firms. USITC also probed Samsung in October last year for allegedly infringing chip patents held by US-based Tessera Advanced Technologies.
“As Section 337 investigations can lead to strict penalties, including confiscation and sales ban, Korean companies may have to be vigilant,” said KOTRA in its report on trade issues with the US last year.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)