A probe has been launched by the US authorities into an alleged patent infringement by Samsung Electronics. The infringement claim stems from its lucrative semiconductor business and raises further concerns about the Trump administration’s pressures on South Korea.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) probe was announced on October 31 after US semiconductor packaging firm Tessera Advanced Technologies accused Samsung of violating patents regarding wafer level packaging. Wafer level packaging is a technology that simplifies the packaging of wafers and reduces the volume of finished products. Tessera asked the ITC to ban sales of Samsung chips and smartphones, tablet PCs and laptops that use the chips. The company said the power management integrated circuits of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones was a case of patent infringement. On September 28, Tessera sued Samsung and some affiliates for infringements of as many as 24 patents related to bonding, packaging and imaging technologies with the ITC, three federal state courts and some international tribunals.

The ITC is investigating two of the 24 patents alleged to have been violated. Under US customs law, the ITC is authorised to order bans on imports of goods that are found to have infringed US patents.

In 2013, the authority banned imports of Samsung’s Galaxy S, S2, Nexus smartphones and Galaxy Tab, judging that the Korean tech titan violated Apple’s patents. Samsung declined to comment on the issue, saying “We don’t have any comment to make on pending legal issues”.

“The fact that the ITC has begun to inspect the case tells that the US authority believes the petition has some reasonable ground,” said Junsok Yang, professor of economics at Catholic University of Korea.

“Although the patent infringement is an issue between a company and another, once it is petitioned to the ITC, the Trump administration is very likely to use it a means to put more pressures on its trade partners.”

Another US chipmaker Netlist requested an ITC investigation into SK hynix on October 31, accusing the second largest memory chipmaker in Korea of infringing two patents owned by the company regarding memory modules. The ITC hasn’t yet decided to investigate SK hynix. SK hynix has been in a legal battle with the US firm since last September.

This story was originally published on www.fiercewireless.com

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