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TSMC and GlobalFoundries Dismiss All Patent Lawsuits, Announce 10-Year Cross-License

What began with a bang ended with a whimper. Today GlobalFoundries and TSMC issued separate, but identical, press releases stating the companies have resolved all of their global patent disputes, resulting in the dismissal of all patent lawsuits between the two companies. The agreement comes as the byproduct of a new life-of-patents cross-license between the companies for all existing patents. The cross-licensing also covers all new patents issued over the next ten years.

The original dispute began quickly, with GlobalFoundries pursuing litigation against 20 of TSMC's customers, albeit with its own customers (like AMD) excluded from the legal action. Those lawsuits were aimed at barring imports of impacted TSMC-produced products to the U.S. and Germany. TSMC took a predictable path and countersued GlobalFoundries for infringing 25 of its own patents, seeking a stoppage of production and sale of impacted products. 

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Here is the joint statement:

"TSMC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) today announced they are dismissing all litigation between them as well as those that involve any of their customers. The companies have agreed to a broad life-of-patents cross-license to each other’s worldwide existing semiconductor patents as well as those patents that will be filed during the next ten years as both companies continue to invest significantly in semiconductor research and development.

This resolution guarantees TSMC and GF freedom to operate and ensures that their respective customers will continue to have access to each foundry's complete array of technologies and services."

In regards to today's quashing of the disputes, we reached out to Patrick Moorhead, Founder, President & Principal Analyst at boutique tech analyst firm Moor Insights & Strategy, for some perspective:

"I believe this agreement is good for the industry as more companies sharing patents and IP accelerates innovation. As GlobalFoundries initiated the lawsuit and is in less diverse markets, I think it likely got the better deal."

In either case, burying the hatchet is a win for both companies, as the litigation would have drug on for years across several jurisdictions. 

And with that, two of the world's three independent foundries have made amends, which is good for the industry as the two companies supply a diverse range of clients that include Nvidia, AMD, and Apple during a time when the worldwide supply of semiconductors is already feeling the squeeze from unprecedented demand.  

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.