Despite making a settlement 13 years ago, the battle between Nikon and ASML Holding has restarted, with Nikon suing the German supplier for patent infringement in chipmaking equipment, demanding suspension of product sales and damages.
Nikon sued ASML in 2001 for patent infringement, and the case was settled in 2004 with payment of about 16 billion yen to Nikon. The two sides formed a licensing agreement followed by a non-assertion period when they would not sue each other for patent infringement. Nikon had considered legal actions since the non-assertion expired at the end of 2014.
Now, the Japanese company has launched legal actions against ASML and its supplier of optical components, Carl Zeiss SMT. It maintains that the parties have illegally used Nikon’s patented technology in ArF immersion lithography systems, which enables even finer circuit details to be etched on semiconductors.
Nikon has filed complaints with courts in The Hague, Netherlands; Mannheim, Germany, and Tokyo, requesting injunctions for damage payment and to bar sales of the systems. In Germany, Nikon is tentatively asking for 10 million euros ($10.8 million). In Japan, partial damages of 100 million yen ($910,200) are sought, and in the Netherlands, the Japanese company will ask for daily penalties of 5 million euros if court injunctions are ignored.
ASML fiercely defended its position in a statement released Monday, calling Nikon’s claims “without merit” and asserting that the litigation “distracts from driving technology forward for the benefit of chipmakers.”