Tessera chip package patent upheld

The chip industry is worried about what will happen next after a US appeal court upheld a patent on the packaging of computer chips.

The court gave the thumbs up to Tessera Technologies and a affirmed a US International Trade Commission decision from early 2009.

That ruling said that Qualcomm, Spansion, STMicroelectronics, Freescale and ATI violated Tessera’s patents related to how certain chips were packaged.

At the heart of the ruling was technology that allows a semiconductor manufacturer to shrink the size of the package that contains and protects a chip from damage.

AMD, Qualcomm and Spansion said they don’t see the decision having an impact on their businesses. Qualcomm said that the patents are expired, as are the ITC’s limited exclusion and cease and desist orders.

However it might be that Tessera is now going to pursue a district court action for back damages that may be relevant to the expired patents. That is assuming that none of the chip companies appeal.

When Tessera filed the complaint in April 2007. Motorola was included in the original suit, but the handset maker signed a licensing agreement last year to settle the litigation.

The company offered similar licensing agreements to all the defendants, and Tessera’s told the Wall Street Journal  that those offers still stand. Although the specific patents addressed in the complaint expired this year, the agreements would include an initial payment and then ongoing royalty payments with respect to the patents Tessera holds that have not yet expired.