Microchip Technology Takes Legal Action Against Shanghai Haier of China

July 05, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Microchip Technology Inc. has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Shanghai Haier Integrated Circuit Co., Ltd. (SHIC) of Shanghai, China. The suit, filed in the Shanghai Number 1 Intermediate People’s Court, alleges that SHIC has made unauthorized copies of the microcode embedded in Microchip’s proprietary PIC16CXXX microcontrollers, and the datasheets that detail the use and operation of those microcontrollers. Microchip’s datasheets and microcode are copyright-protected in both the U.S. and in China.

"Intellectual property is the backbone of our company and our industry," said William Yang, Vice President, Asia Pacific. "When we find out that our intellectual property has been infringed upon, it is important for us to take action to protect our assets."

Microchip stated that it has invested significant engineering and development resources to create the datasheets and microcode in the PIC16CXXX microcontrollers. Because both China and the U.S. are parties to the Berne Convention, Microchip’s copyrights to those datasheets and microcode are also protected in China.

"I want to stress that this lawsuit is directed at one individual company, which is affiliated with a large Chinese multinational company. It is not directed at Microchip customers in China or the Chinese government, who fully recognizes that protecting the intellectual property of both domestic and foreign companies is critical to the country’s continued economic growth," said Steve Sanghi, President and CEO of Microchip Technology Inc. "Furthermore, this lawsuit does not change in any way our commitment to China. We will continue to invest and grow our business in China. We will also continue to help China develop its future talent through our educational outreach initiative, which has benefited around 120,000 engineers since 1996."

Concurrently, Microchip has filed a related legal action against Linkage Technology Co. Ltd. of Hsinchu, Taiwan. Linkage Technology is noted as the Taiwanese distributor for SHIC.

According to the China Internet Information Center (described as the "authorized government portal site to China"), a senior manager with the Haier Group, commented, " intellectual propriety protection is a tool for multinational companies to lambaste others in order to retain their technology monopoly. This tool is more lethal than trade barriers and 60% of Chinese export companies are suffering this kind of technical barrier set by foreign countries."