GlobalFoundries takes IBM to court for sharing IP and trade secrets

Chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries has filed a lawsuit against IBM, accusing it of unlawfully sharing confidential intellectual property and trade secrets.
GlobalFoundries facebookNew York-based GlobalFoundries said in its complaint that IBM had shared IP and trade secrets with Rapidus, a new state-backed Japanese consortium that IBM is working with to develop and produce two-nanometre chips.

This is the second time GlobalFoundries has sued IBM since buying IBM’s semiconductor plants and microelectronics business in 2015.

GlobalFoundries in the legal action filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York today said US-based IBM had unlawfully disclosed and misused its IP with Intel, noting that IBM had announced in 2021 it would collaborate with Intel on next-generation chip technology.

“IBM is unjustly receiving potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing income and other benefits,” GlobalFoundries said in a news statement.

The complaint said GlobalFoundries and IBM, the former semiconductor manufacturing company, had collaboratively developed technology over decades in Albany, New York and the exclusive right to license and disclose the technology was sold to GlobalFoundries in 2015.

GlobalFoundries is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction against IBM to stop using the trade secrets.

GlobalFoundries said IBM has been recruiting GlobalFoundries’ engineers at the company’s manufacturing facility, which is located near the Albany NanoTech Complex. GlobalFoundries says hiring of its engineers has accelerated since the Rapidus partnership was announced in December 2022. GlobalFoundries asked the court to order an end to those recruitment efforts.

GlobalFoundries has made significant investment in research and development to advance its feature-rich technology and is one of the world’s leading semiconductor foundries with a global footprint and more than 13,000 employees, 2,500 of whom are based at the company’s headquarters in upstate New York.

Rapidus, which counts Sony Group, NEC and other major tech firms as consortium members, is of national strategic importance and has been hailed in Japan as a symbol of U.S.-Japan cooperation.

Japan long ago lost its lead in chip manufacturing, particularly in advanced semiconductors, and is now rushing to catch up and ensure its carmakers and information technology companies do not run short of the key component, Reuters news report said.

In 2021, GlobalFoundries asked a judge to rule that it did not violate a contract with IBM which claims it is owed $2.5 billion in damages. That litigation is still ongoing, according to a GlobalFoundries spokesperson.