As we enter the critical holiday shopping period, the future of Apple’s iPod hangs in the balance as two courts consider a patent lawsuit over memory chips. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Spansion Inc. Monday named Apple, along with other customers of Samsung in a dispute over alleged abuse of flash memory patents.
While the Delaware lawsuit, covering six patents, asks for damages and an injunction against Samsung, Spansion’s case before the International Trade Commission could result in blocking imports of Apple and other makers of devices containing flash memory chips, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A wide range of gadgets, from MP3 players to cell phones and digital cameras, use flash memory. The ITC could forego an import ban if it views the blockage would impose undue harm on a company.
Spansion said it named Apple and others after the ITC reversed an order in the patent infringement case against Qualcomm when Broadcom refused to list customers.
Earlier this year, Spansion acquired Saifun Semiconductors, holder of patents on “charge trapping,” a technology comprising a growing amount of flash memory.
In a hint to the reasons for the patent infringement suit, Spansion outlined a strategy “to create a major licensing business” capable of generating increased revenue as the price of flash memory chips continue to fall.
Along with Apple, the lawsuit named RIM, Sony, Sony-Ericsson, Lenovo and others.