Veeco reported that on December 7, 2017, the Fujian High Court issued a ruling applicable in China without giving notice to Veeco and without hearing Veeco’s position about the alleged infringement. The Fujian High Court ruled that Veeco Shanghai must stop importing, making, selling and offering to sell the company’s EPIK 700 model MOCVD systems which contain the allegedly infringing synchronous movement engagement mechanism covered by AMEC utility model patent ZL 201220056049.5 and which use allegedly infringing wafer carriers as supplies for the EPIK 700 MOCVD system.
Selling and Importation Ban Only Applies in China
Veeco says it is still evaluating the ruling. However, the company noted that the ruling applies only in China and does not apply to EPIK 700 MOCVD systems previously shipped to customers in China. Veeco says it will continue servicing and supporting its installed base of EPIK 700 MOCVD systems in China (while complying with the ruling). Under its specific terms, Veeco also noted that the ruling does not cover the company’s EPIK 868 MOCVD system.
Veeco says that its engineers are working on devising potential alternative designs which the ruling and the disputed patent do not cover.
Ruling Originated with AMEC Infringement Complaint in Fujian High Court
The ruling stems from a patent complaint that AMEC filed against Veeco in Fujian High Court in China on July 13, 2017. The complaint alleges that Veeco’s EPIK 700 MOCVD systems infringe a Chinese utility model patent describing the synchronous movement engagement mechanism of a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor. The complaint also seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Veeco Shanghai filed a petition to invalidate this patent with the Chinese Patent Reexamination Board (“PRB”). Then, the Fujian High Court suspended the infringement case against Veeco Shanghai pending the outcome of the invalidation proceeding at the PRB. On November 24, 2017, the PRB ruled in the invalidation to uphold AMEC’s patent. However, Veeco says that during the proceeding, AMEC abandoned its broadest independent claim, thereby drastically narrowing the scope of the patent.
Veeco intends to appeal the ruling. Veeco also has a tangentially related case that is ongoing in the United States against SGL Carbon. (Ref: Coverage).