SanDisk seeks to ban sale of STMicro flash chips in US

SanDisk claims the European chip maker is infringing its patents

US flash memory chip giant SanDisk is seeking to ban the sale of certain types of flash memory chips made by STMicroelectronics, claiming the European chip maker is infringing its patents.

The company says a US government group charged with investigating infringement claims has opened a query against STMicro at its request. A ruling against STMicro's flash memory chips, dubbed NOR flash, could see them barred from import and sale in the US.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) will investigate whether or not certain STMicro flash memory chips that are sold in the US infringe two SanDisk patents, SanDisk says.

The complaint centers on patents No. 5,172,338 and No. 5,991,517, according to SanDisk, which pioneered flash memory technology. The company has already filed court actions against STMicro over the alleged patent infringement in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, SanDisk says.

"We are looking forward to a speedy decision by the ITC," says E. Earle Thompson, SanDisk's chief intellectual property counsel, in a statement, adding his company has developed a portfolio of hundreds of fundamental patents covering all aspects of flash memory design.

STMicro could not immediately be reached for comment.

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