Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Micron receives Chinese ban, sees 1 pct impact on quarterly revenue

Semiconductors are among China's biggest imports rivalling oil Semiconductors are among China's biggest imports rivalling oil More
Orlando Vargas | 07 July, 2018, 03:59

US flash memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc. saw its share price take a pummeling today on the news that a Chinese court has temporarily banned it from doing business in that country.

The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court of the People's Republic of China issued the injunction against Micron for infringing patents for PRC 26 DRAM and NAND-related SSDs and memory sticks.

In its civil complaint in December, Micron accused UMC of attempting to recruit high level personnel in Taiwan and entice former staff at Micron Taiwan to steal files which could help Jinhua, at the time little-known, to jumpstart China's campaign of developing its own technology for chips. Jinhua has denied the allegations. A company spokesman declined to comment further. The U.S. case is still being heard. When violations occur, UMC stands ready pursue patent infringement litigation in order to obtain judgment and remedies to protect the intellectual property rights of the company. The lawsuit covers three areas, including specific memory applications and memory used in graphics cards.

The patent ruling Tuesday in favor of Micron's rivals comes as US accusations of intellectual-property theft by Chinese businesses and tariff threats increase tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Earlier this year, Washington banned Chinese telecom and smartphone giant ZTE from purchasing crucial U.S. components for seven years, threatening its survival, as punishment for breaking United States export controls.

The ban has crippled ZTE's business operations and highlighted China's severe shortage of domestic chips.

Much of Taiwanese semiconductor firms' business is conducted with the mainland. However, that may not be good news to Korean semiconductor companies. South Korea was the second-biggest provider, at 27 percent.

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"I think that China is using this case as a payback against the US", said Ho in an interview with the Taiwan branch of New York-based broadcaster New Tang Dynasty Television.

Roughly one quarter of all global memory chip demand comes from China.

A Micron spokesman replied to news reports on the preliminary injunction via email.

Micron Technology is rebounding after saying its temporary ban in China will have a limited impact on revenue. "So they have to import anyway", said Greg Roh, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.

Others believe the ban will be short-lived. The ban applies to its subsidiaries Micron Semiconductor (Xi'an) Co Ltd and Micron Semiconductor (Shanghai) Co Ltd.

The Court has not yet indicated when a final ruling on the case can be expected, nor for how long the injunction on sales is valid. Moreover, the businesses of Micron's downstream partners would also be affected. The country is the world's largest market for chips but China's homegrown suppliers are dwarfed by American rivals.

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