Tiny MEMS microphone is big business. Knowles is a big player. Akustica, founded by MEMS veterans, is also a pioneer. MEMSTECH, based in Asia, is interested in making products and sell in America. Knowles filed suits against Akustica and MEMSTECH first. After a win by Knowles, Analog Devices entered into the game of microphone and sues Knowles on the ground of certain anti-stiction process flow. The case illustrates the real-life war of patents - from technical details to legal wrangling ...
Knowles is the leader of MEMS Microphone. The commercial field grows rapidly, lead by Akustica and Knowles. With the growing market, new companies start to enter the competition. As market leader, Knowles must do everything to protect the intellectual rights.
document is a summary of news articles related to the MEMS Microphone filed, in
particular, the patent and technology dispute between major players, Knowles,
MEMSTech, Analog Devices (ADI), and Akustica. The key disputes are focused on US
Patents 6,781,231 (view
pdf) and 7,242,089 (view
pdf). (Later, Knowles and Analog Devices would have a separate law suit. The
focus of that patent suit is US Pat. No. 7220614, view
pdf, and No. 7364942,
view pdf). [Claims for No
7364942 are outlined on this page].
On the court, Knowles was able to fend off MEMSTech. In November 2010, Knowles learned that the court agreed that ADI violated its patents, but then got disappointed by the court's decision that these patents were invalid.
Written December 8, 2010
The following information is presented in chronicle order.
ITASCA, IL and PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwire - June 5, 2007) - Knowles Acoustics and Akustica, Inc. announced today that the companies agreed to enter into a cross-licensing arrangement which reinforces the strength of each company's respective patent portfolios. Knowles Acoustics and Akustica are the leading companies for silicon MEMS microphone design, manufacturing, and sales. Both company's innovations are tightly protected by several MEMS microphone processing and packaging patents. Terms of the agreement are confidential; however, there will be no restrictions on sales of products from either company.
"Knowles was the first company to launch a MEMS microphone product and ramp into high volume manufacturing," said Jeffrey Niew, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Knowles Acoustics, "but we have always recognized that the growth and success of the MEMS microphone industry is based on the entry of other MEMS microphone manufacturers into the market. This agreement encourages competition in the marketplace while also acknowledging that the basis of fair competition is intellectual property protection."
"This agreement will benefit Knowles and Akustica customers," said
Jim Rock, president and CEO of Akustica. "Cooperation between the MEMS
microphone market leaders creates an environment that stimulates innovation. The
customers win by having a choice between microphone products and can select the
solution that works best for their applications."
The International Trade Commision (ITC) institute investigation Certain Silicon Microphone Packages and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-629) based on complaint of Knowles Electronics.Knowles asserted violation of Section 337 based on the importation, sale for importation, and sale after importation of certain silicon microphone packages that infringed claims 1, 2, 9, 10, 15, 17, 20, 28, and 29 of U.S. Patent No. 7,242,089 (the ‘089 patent) and claims 1 and 2 of U.S. Patent No. 6,781,231 (the ‘231 patent).
MEMSTech is a company based in south Asia (headquartered in Singapore/Malysia and operates manufacturing facilities in Singapore and Malaysian). Its product including thermal imaging cameras and microphones. It operates many divisions, including one called SensPak Pte Ltd, which deals with MEMS packaging. The other subscidaries include Sensfab Pte. The company is founded in 2001, following a management buyout of Temic Automotive's silicon accelerometer wafer fabrication facility in Singapore. It is known in Malysis as MEMS Technology Berhad (or MEMSTech BHD). Its stock symbol on Kuala Lumpur stock exchange (called MESDAQ) is (KLSE, MESDAQ, 0052), or MEMS: Kuala Lumpur. The manufacturing facilities are in Singapore, Johor Bahru, and Penang, Malaysia. Its sales in 2006 is approximately $23 millon US.
MEMS microphones were once the darlings of startups, but no more. Analog Devices Inc. has announced a major thrust into the fledgling MEMS microphone market, predicted by Yole Développement to sell 800 million units by 2010. ADI's entry into this potentially high-volume market follows the entry last year of Infineon Technologies AG. Neither company has yet reported shipping production units.
"From a market perspective, Analog Devices' entry, following Infineon's entry last year, gives very high-volume customers like cellphone makers two sources of MEMS microphones from companies that are used to supplying these kinds of high volumes," said Marlene Bourne, founder of Bourne Research. "After all, the electret microphones that MEMS mics will replace in mobile phones are being delivered in the billions of units per year—those buyers will have an innate comfort level in dealing with companies like Analog Devices and Infineon."
Two years ago, startup Akustica Inc. announced the world's first MEMS microphone. The company took an innovative approach using a single CMOS chip that surrounds the mechanical microphone diaphragm with its supporting electronic circuitry—including an ADC—enabling Akustica's digital microphone to eliminate analog noise sources and leverage CMOS economies of scale, which reduce die costs as design rules shrink.
Getting on the bandwagon
A few months later, hearing-aid specialists Knowles Electronics Inc. announced a two-chip analog MEMS microphone—one for the mechanical diaphragm wire-bonded to a second ASIC in the same package. Shortly thereafter, another startup, Sonion MEMS A/S (now part of Technitrol Inc.), announced a two-chip MEMS microphone.
So far, Akustica and Knowles are the only MEMS microphone makers reporting volume shipments. Akustica has been shipping its digital MEMS microphone to laptop makers, whose circuitry was already digital. Knowles has sold its MEMS microphone into applications that required an analog MEMS mic. Since then Akustica has announced a single-chip analog MEMS mic that downsized its die to just 1mm2 and Knowles announced a two-chip digital MEMS mic that includes an ADC on its ASIC. In hopes of luring high-volume cellphone makers into switching from electrets to MEMS mics with the assurance of two sources, Knowles and Akustica have announced a cross-licensing agreement.
"Analog Devices' entry to the market will put significant pressure on Knowles and Akustica," said Bourne. "Analog Devices and Infineon are sure to snap away significant market share as they will probably become the preferred first and second sources, with the smaller startups left to focus on niche and mid-level applications."
Despite the tough talk from analysts about a small company's inability to manufacture in the hundreds-of-millions unit quantities that market research companies predict to be coming for MEMS microphones in he next few years, Akustica, for one, remains gung ho.
"At the end of the day, the market is so big—with billions of units up for grabs in the next five years—there needs to be more competitors out there to meet all that demand," said Davin Yuknis, VP of marketing and product management at Akustica. "And as far as we know we are still the only supplier with a single-chip solution, so we plan to take the high road, and not just sell commodities."
The MEMS microphone's particle filter (inset) covers its diaphragm, fabricated from a silicon slab with thousands of 6µm wide x 10µm deep holes.
ADI's entry into the MEMS microphone market includes both analog and digital versions, using a two-chip solution housed in the same package. Common to the two versions is the MEMS microphone chip, but different ASICs are wire-bonded to the MEMS chips in the same package so OEMs can choose either analog or digital outputs.
A unique aspect of ADI's design is a particle filter constructed by perforating a silicon cover over the microphone's diaphragm. The particle filter uses deep holes just 6µm wide but 10µm deep. The deep holes in this perforated cover are exceptionally effective at keeping dust and other contaminants from reaching the delicate MEMS diaphragm, according to ADI.
"From an engineering perspective, the most unique aspect of Analog Devices' MEMS microphone is this filter that they have put over the microphone's diaphragm to keep particles from effecting its performance," said Bourne.
ADI also claims that by delaying its entry into the market by two years, compared with Akustica and Knowles, it has had time to craft a MEMS microphone with exceptional specifications. ADI claims a wide frequency response, low noise level and high immunity to the mechanical and sound-pressure shocks often experienced by mobile phones and similar handheld consumer devices.
"We have the world's highest SNR in the industry [61db a-weighted], the highest immunity to mechanical and sound-pressure shocks [20kG and 160dB, respectively] and the highest power-supply noise rejection [50dB and 80dB for analog and digital versions, respectively]," said Alex Khenkin, senior acoustics engineer at ADI.
Because the particle filter protects the MEMS membrane, the entire inside of the chip package serves as the microphone's back-volume, rather than just using the small volume behind the MEMS chip itself, as in designs without a particle filter. The larger back-volume enables a flat frequency response from 100Hz to 15,000Hz without the typical midrange peak, according to the company.
WASHINGTON -- Knowles Electronics announced today that
Judge Rogers of the International Trade Commission issued his Initial
Determination holding that Mems Technology Berhad, known as Memstech, has violated
Knowles' U.S. Patents 6,781,231 and
7,242,089. Knowles Electronics
believes that Judge Rogers' decision not only confirmed that Memstech's
microphone packages and any products using these packages infringe Knowles'
patents, but also confirmed that Knowles' patents are valid and enforceable. If
the full Commission of the ITC
ITC (Brit) n
abbr (= Independent Television Commission). (Article 1930, No 337).
"This is great news for Knowles Electronics and our legacy of innovation. This ruling bolsters the confidence in additional investments in our technology portfolio." said VP of R&D, Pete Loeppert. "The ruling also fortifies the licenses Knowles has granted to several multi-national companies. Knowles intends to continue to deliver value to the audio market via its own semiconductor microphone offerings as well as through its licensed partners."
"The Judge made the right decision by ruling in favor of upon the side of Knowles Electronics. Given the competitive global economy, this is a fair and proper response," said Jeff Niew, President of Knowles Electronics. "Similar to other technologically-driven industries, growth of the MEMS industry and semiconductor-based silicon microphones relies on continued investment from corporations and institutional investors The Judge's decision reinforces the validity of Knowles' intellectual property and shows investors that firms such as Memstech will be unable to access U.S. consumers in violation of the intellectual property rights of others."
Published February 2nd, 2009 - 20:40 GMT
KUALA LUMPUR: MEMS TECHNOLOGY [
] BHD [
] (Mems Tech) directors Ooi Boon Leong and Tan Yeow Teck separately
pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here today to a charge of furnishing
misleading statements to Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd.
The duo were charged by the Securities Commission (SC) under Section 122 of the Securities Industry Act 1983 for knowingly authorising the furnishing of a misleading statement concerning Mems Tech’s revenue of RM73 million for the 12-month period ended July 31, 2007 to Bursa Securities. (Now, if you think you have seen the end of MEMSTECH as a company, you may be surprised. For the next two years, MEMSTECH would still appeal to the US ITC court many times, and Knowles would still appeal as well, for technical reasons). The ITC judge would partially change his mind a couple of times. For clarity, all following stories related to MEMSTECH would be highlighted by a different color, where as the main story would be highlighted in yellow).
(Source: Knowles company announcement http://www.businesswirechina.com/node/1720 )
Knowles Acoustics has reached a major milestone in the history of MEMS technology with the shipment of its 1 Billionth SiSonic™ surface mount MEMS microphone. Knowles Acoustics, which shipped its first MEMS Microphone in 2003, is currently ranked in the top 5 Global Market Share Suppliers of MEMS for Consumer and Mobile Applications (Source: iSuppli Corp. January 2009) and is the world leader in MEMS-based silicon microphone manufacturing.
When utilized in the SiSonic™ patented microphone package, MEMS technology yields a low profile, robust component exhibiting low vibration sensitivity, environmental stability, and ultimately more efficient use in customer applications as a high volume surface mountable microphone. Today, with over 30 part models and multiple generations available, SiSonic™ is recognized as the preferred acoustic component in mobile phones, laptops, gaming systems, and headsets.
In 2004, to address growing demand, Knowles opened a new 80,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility dedicated solely to SiSonic™ production. Located in Suzhou, China, the facility is highly scalable, capable of producing all SiSonic™ variations, and has provided the technology, manufacturing and logistical infrastructure necessary for Knowles to sustain future growth and meet the needs of global customers.
“Knowles’ long term commitment, willingness to venture into new
territories, finding the ‘right’ suppliers, and financial investment, are
all key ingredients to the success of the SiSonic™ MEMS Microphone,” said
Jeffrey Niew, President of Knowles. “Shipping one billion MEMS microphones is
a momentous achievement which illustrates Knowles’ dedication to not only
produce revolutionary products, but to be visionaries in the world of acoustics
Robert Bosch North America will acquire Akustica Inc., an
innovator in the application of CMOS MEMS
technology in the CE market. Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.
Akustica, founded in 2001, develops and sells digital and analog microphones featuring CMOS MEMS technology. This innovative technology allows the integration of transducer elements and associated ICs on a single silicon chip.
"The strategic acquisition of Akustica with their outstanding application of sophisticated MEMS technology complements our growing semiconductor business and ideally complements our ongoing MEMS activities" said Stefan Kampmann, executive VP of Bosch automotive electronics.
To date Akustica, which developed and sold the first digital MEMS microphone, has sold over 5 million microphones in the global market. All of the company's 36 associates will be employed by Bosch.
According to Joseph Jacobson, president and CEO of Akustica, "We are excited to join the market leader in MEMS sensors and be a part of Bosch's expansion in commercialization of consumer MEMS products. The strength of our combined technology, manufacturing capability, and talent will allow us to continue delivering innovative and differentiating sensor product solutions."
On November 12,
2009, Knowles Electronics LLC of Itasca, Illinois (“Knowles”) filed a complaint
requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.
alleges that Analog Devices Inc. of Norwood, Massachusetts (“ADI”)
unlawfully imports into the U.S., sells for importation, and sells within the
U.S. after importation certain silicon microphone packages and products
containing the same which allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,781,231 (the
‘231 patent) and 7,242,089 (the ‘089 patent).
According to the
complaint, “[s]ilicon microphones are a unique type of microphone using
processes like silicon etching that are normally used to create microchips”
and the “technology-at-issue relates to a unique and proprietary package for a
silicon microphone that consists of a microphone diaphragm made of silicon
produced using the Microelectromechanical Systems (‘MEMS’) process, a
substrate, and a cover.”
In the complaint,
Knowles alleges that “ADI manufactures and imports into the United States
and/or sells for importation into the United States a variety of silicon
microphone packages that infringe the [asserted] Knowles [p]atents.”
Knowles further alleges that “ADI or one of its affiliates sells its silicon
microphone packages to overseas manufacturers including Apple into downstream
products such as Apple’s iPod Nano product line.”
With respect to
domestic industry (technical prong), Knowles asserts that it “domestically
practices at least one claim of the Knowles ‘231 Patent and the Knowles ‘089
Patent.” Further, Knowles alleges that it satisfies the domestic
industry (economic prong) requirement through “Knowles’s activities within
the United States, including Knowles’s manufacture, research and development,
repair and service of its MEMS Silicon Microphone Technology and its SiSonic
Microphone Package.” Knowles also alleges that the “existence of the
economic prong of a domestic industry with respect to both of the ‘231 and
‘089 patents was adjudicated and affirmed in investigation 337-TA-629.”
legal proceedings involving the asserted patents, Knowles alleges in its
complaint that the ITC issued an opinion and limited exclusion order in
investigation 337-TA-629 (The '629' Investigation, which is titled Certain
Silicon Microphone Packages and Products Containing Same"). Knowles further discloses that it filed a
complaint on October 6, 2009 against ADI in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois. Additionally, Knowles discloses that both
ADI and Wolfson Microelectronics Plc have recently requested that the U.S.
Patent & Trademark Office re-examine the ‘231 and ‘089 patents.
remedy, Knowles asks that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and a
permanent cease and desist order directed to ADI.
by: Eric Schweibenz
Topics: New 337 Complaints
On December 1, 2009, Analog Devices, Inc. of Norwood, Massachusetts (“Analog”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.
The complaint alleges that Knowles Electronics LLC of Itasca, Illinois (“Knowles”) and Mouser Electronics, Inc. of Mansfield, Texas (“Mouser”) (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain surface mount MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) microphones, as well as certain products that incorporate those microphones which allegedly infringe certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,220,614 (the ‘614 patent) and 7,364,942 (the ‘942 patent).
According to the complaint, the “patents-in-suit relate generally to forming durable anti-stiction surfaces on micromachined structures.” Further, Analog alleges in its complaint that the asserted patents (i) “provide a solution to the problem of stiction, including in MEMS devices,” (ii) “disclose and claim processes and devices that utilize vapor deposition of a material having anti-stiction properties to produce a low stiction surface on a MEMS device,” and (iii) “disclose and claim chemicals that are effective in imparting the anti-stiction property to a surface for a MEMS device.”
In the complaint, Analog alleges that “the Accused Products are manufactured entirely outside of the United States in China and/or Japan and are then imported into the United States, sold for importation, and/or sold after importation, in the United States by Knowles and its U.S. distributors, including Mouser.” Analog further alleges that a “representative of Analog purchased, in the United States, a Nokia 3600 cell phone containing a Knowles surface mount MEMS microphone, bearing identification number ‘S310 3745 V11’” and such Knowles surface mount MEMS microphone “was manufactured, at least in part, in China.”
With respect to related litigation, Analog asserts in its complaint that it filed suit on November 3, 2009 against Knowles in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement of the same patents asserted in the instant action. In addition, Analog notes that Knowles filed a Section 337 complaint against Analog on November 12, 2009 and the ITC has not yet determined whether it will institute an investigation. See our November 13 post for more details. According to the complaint, there is “substantial overlap between Knowles’ Proposed Investigation and Analog’s Complaint” since “[b]oth investigations involve the same products – Analog’s MEMS microphones and Knowles’ surface mount MEMS microphones.” Analog therefore seeks “consolidation of the investigations pursuant to Commission Rule 201.7(a)” in an effort to “save Commission resources, as well as those of the parties.”
Regarding domestic industry, Analog asserts that a “domestic industry as defined by 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(3) exists with respect to Analog’s activities in the United States that exploit the ‘614 Patent and ‘942 Patent and that relate to articles protected by the patented methods by reason of Analog’s significant investment in plant and equipment and significant employment of labor and capital.”
With respect to potential remedy, Analog asks that the Commission issue permanent limited and general exclusion orders and permanent cease and desist orders directed to the Proposed Respondents.
by: Eric Schweibenz
Topics: Notices of Investigation
On December 17, 2009, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a press release announcing that it voted to institute an investigation of Certain Silicon Microphone Packages and Products Containing the Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-695).(The '695' investigation). In this investigation, Knowles alleged that Analog Devices Inc. violated Section 337 based on infringement of claim 1 of the ‘231 patent and claims 1, 2, 7, 16, 17, 18, and 20 of the ‘089 patent.
The investigation is based on a November 12, 2009 complaint and motion for temporary relief as well as a December 1, 2009 letter supplementing the complaint filed by Knowles Electronics LLC of Itasca, Illinois (“Knowles”). Knowles’ complaint and motion for temporary relief allege violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain silicon microphone packages and products containing the same which allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,781,231 and 7,242,089. See our November 13 and 17 posts for more details.
According to the Notice of Investigation, the Commission has identified Analog Devices Inc. of Norwood, Massachusetts (“ADI”) as the respondent in this investigation. In addition, regarding Knowles’ motion for temporary relief, the Notice of Investigation provides that the Commission has provisionally accepted and referred such motion to the presiding ALJ for investigation.
Further, Mareesa A. Frederick of the Office of Unfair Import Investigations is identified on the Notice of Investigation as the Investigative Attorney assigned to handle this investigation.
Lastly, Chief ALJ Paul J. Luckern issued a notice assigning ALJ Robert K. Rogers, Jr. as the presiding Administrative Law Judge in this investigation.
(Source: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100209/US-Court-dismisses-two-of-ADIs-patent-infringement-claims-against-Knowles-Electronics.aspx )
WILMINGTON, Delaware -- The U.S. District Court in the
District of Delaware has ordered the dismissal of two patent
infringement patent infringement n.
the manufacture and/or use of an invention or improvement for which someone else
owns a patent issued by the government, without obtaining permission of the
owner of the patent by contract, license or waiver. claims
originally filed by Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) against Knowles Electronics. The
order was issued pursuant to the withdrawal of its claims by Analog Devices
under a stipulation of dismissal signed by both parties.
Jeffrey Niew, President of Knowles Electronics, stated, "From the outset of this case, we believed it to be without merit, and simply a response to our pending action with the ITC against ADI. The expedited dismissal of half of ADI's patent infringement claims brought in the Delaware action substantiates our belief. We are confident both in the legal process, and that the remaining claims in the Delaware action will be resolved in Knowles' favor."
March 26, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Washington, DC -- Knowles Electronics announced today that Judge Rogers of the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued his Initial Determination in which he found that Knowles was likely to succeed in showing that its patents cover Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) MEMS microphone products.
Jeffrey Niew, President and CEO of Knowles Electronics, stated, "The Judge made the right decision by ruling in favor of Knowles Electronics on the infringement issue. This ruling is consistent with our view of the merits of this case."
A hearing is set for July 7th of this year, in which the ITC will more closely review all of the issues raised in this matter and decide if ADI’s accused products may be imported into the United States. Judge Rogers denied Knowles’ request for a Temporary Exclusion Order (TEO) in part because of his finding of a lack of irreparable harm for the expedited relief sought by Knowles. Mike Adell, VP and General Manager of Knowles, commented, "We believe the Judge has ruled narrowly with respect to some issues. However, the Judge's ruling is not dispositive of what we believe will be the final outcome in this case, namely, a finding that ADI’s microphone packages infringe upon Knowles' patents, and that those patents are in fact, valid."
The company announced that the company had failed to meet the stock exchange’s deadline to regularize its financial status since it was categorized under guidance note 3 in April 2008. MEMS Tech said Bursa had issued the company a letter to inform it of the appeal committee’s final decision to remove the company’s shares from the exchange as it could not meet the Oct 30, 2010 deadline. The announcement came on the heels of Theta Edge Bhd’s, the former Lityan Holdings Bhd, decision not to participate in MEMS Tech’s restructuring scheme that involved a fund-raising exercise.
DC, November 22, 2010 -- Judge Rogers of the International Trade Commission
issued his Initial Determination holding that certain MEMS microphone products
of Analog Devices are covered by the language of Knowles’ U.S. Patents
6,781,231 and 7,242,089, ruling against Analog Devices on the issue of
Niew, Chief Executive Officer of Knowles Electronics, stated that, “The Judge
made the right decision by ruling in favor of Knowles Electronics on the issue
of infringement. This ruling is consistent with our view of the merits of this
the time being, Analog Devices will be able to import products into the United
States, due to the Judge’s ruling on the issue of validity. In response to this ruling, Mike Adell, VP and General
Manager, stated, “We are obviously disappointed in the Judge’s finding and
will be requesting that the ITC Commission review this issue. Despite this
ruling, Knowles has and will continue to develop innovative solutions for our
customers. Protection of these solutions and intellectual property from unlawful
infringement is of great importance to our business, and we will pursue
(don't blink :-)
NORWOOD, Mass., Nov 22, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Analog Devices, Inc. (NYSE: ADI), a global leader in high-performance semiconductors for signal-processing applications, announced today that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled decisively against Knowles Electronics. Administrative Law Judge Robert K. Rogers, Jr. concluded that Knowles' patents were invalid, based on the fact that certain prior art was previously considered in the '629' investigation. As a result, Judge Rogers determined that Analog Devices should not be prohibited from importing or selling its microphones.
This ruling followed his March 24th order denying Knowles' request for temporary relief. Judge Rogers' two rulings are consistent with the position taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which in separate reexaminations, has rejected all of Knowles' asserted claims as invalid.
"Since bringing our first MEMS microphone products to market in 2008, ADI has maintained our focus on innovation and providing the highest performance MEMS microphones available. Our products are designed for many applications where small size and great sound quality go hand in hand," commented Mark Martin, Analog Devices' Vice President, MEMS/Sensor Technology Group. "We are gratified that Judge Rodgers has twice agreed with our position in this matter." Separately, Analog Devices has sued Knowles for shipping microphone products which infringe ADI's patented Wafer Anti-Stiction Application (WASA) process.
Judge Rogers is expected to rule on the WASA case on or before January 4, 2011.
iMEMS(R) Microphones: Designed for High Quality Sound Design engineers worldwide have become familiar with the vast capabilities of ADI's innovative iMEMS(R) technology. That's why the real promise of the technology is being realized daily in hundreds of cutting-edge applications, beginning with motion sensors and now with MEMS microphones. Combining nearly 20 years of MEMS know-how with ADI's audio signal processing expertise, iMEMS microphones provide unprecedented performance and reliability. By integrating a MEMS transducer with an audio ASIC, iMEMS microphones optimize system designs with more control over the full solution and value chain. iMEMS microphones and their many performance advantages will differentiate and radically change acoustic input designs in future electronics devices. For more information, visit www.analog.com/pr/MEMS.
About Analog Devices Innovation, performance, and excellence are the cultural pillars on which Analog Devices has built one of the longest standing, highest growth companies within the technology sector. Acknowledged industry-wide as the world leader in data conversion and signal conditioning technology, Analog Devices serves over 60,000 customers, representing virtually all types of electronic equipment. Celebrating over 40 years as a leading global manufacturer of high-performance integrated circuits used in analog and digital signal processing applications, Analog Devices is headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts, with design and manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Analog Devices' common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "ADI" and is included in the S&P 500 Index. http://www.analog.com.
Judge ruled on Knowles infringement on 7,364,942
Judge Rogers concluded that Knowles infringes valid claims
from one of ADI's Wafer Anti-Stiction Application (WASA) patents.
Specifically, he ruled that Knowles infringes claims 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 from
ADI’s U.S. Pat. No. 7,364,942.
"Analog Devices began investing in MEMS in 1989 and has developed an extensive and innovative MEMS IP portfolio," commented Mark Martin, vice president, MEMS and Sensor Technology Group, Analog Devices. "We have leveraged this investment to create the highest performance MEMS microphones available. We are very pleased that Judge Rogers ruled in our favor confirming the strength of our MEMS IP portfolio."
Knowles, on the other hand, said that this ITC decision would not impact its ability to import its products into the United States. According to the company, the use of anti-stiction coatings is common in the industry and Knowles uses various anti-stiction coatings and methods in the manufacture of its MEMS microphone packages.
"Knowles manufactures its microphone packages, along with other products, through a variety of methods. While we are disappointed with the Judge's ruling and will seek further review from the ITC Commission, we remain unaffected in our ability to deliver our products to our customers, as the ruling applies to only one of those manufacturing methods," stated Jeff Niew, President of Knowles Electronics. It seems that Knowles ability to make and ship microphones to the US is unaffected, whereas Analog Devices will be able to operate its product and marketing.
introduces industry’s first I2S digital MEMS microphone
The new ADMP441 iMEMS® microphone delivers high precision 24-bit data with industry standard I2S digital interface enabling plug–and-play use.
Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI), a global leader in high-performance semiconductors for signal processing applications, introduced today the ADMP441 iMEMS® microphone, the industry’s first high-performance MEMS microphone with an I2S (Inter-IC Sound) digital output. The ADMP441 also features an extended frequency response from 100 Hz to 15 kHz, high SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) of 61 dBA, and high PSRR (power-supply-rejection ratio) of 80 dBFS – features that have become the hallmarks of Analog Devices’ award-winning MEMS microphone portfolio. The new MEMS microphone uses patented ADI MEMS and audio signal processing technologies and is available in a thin 4.72 mm × 3.76 mm × 1.00 mm surface-mount package. It is reflow solder compatible with no sensitivity degradation. To download the datasheet, please visit http://www.analog.com/ADMP441
“For years, audio designers have been forced to design in additional signal processing in order to convert microphone output signals into standard I2S formats for non-mobile phone use. This increased both system cost and design complexity,” said Kieran Harney, product line manager, MEMS/Sensors Technology Group, Analog Devices. “The innovative ADMP441 with industry standard I2S output offers plug–and-play use in a small footprint, simplifying audio system design while reducing overall signal chain cost and complexity. The ADMP441 is ADI’s latest installment in a growing portfolio of high performance MEMS microphones that meet the demand for better sound quality and smaller footprints.”
Key Features and Benefits
• Digital I²S interface with high-precision 24-bit data provides plug–and-play compatibility with industry standard digital interface for non-handset applications.
• High SNR of 61 dBA enables excellent sound quality and intelligibility in far-field applications.
• Flat frequency response from 100 Hz to 15 kHz produces a well-balanced and natural sound.
• High PSRR of 80 dBFS provides superior RF and electrical noise rejection allowing greater design flexibility for microphone placement and power trace routing.
Additionally, the ADMP441 fully complies with the TIA-920 Telecommunications Telephone Terminal Equipment Transmission Requirements for Wideband Digital Wireline Telephones standard.
Availability and Pricing
The ADMP441 iMEMS microphone is now sampling with volume production scheduled for June 2011. Pricing is $2.38 per unit in 1,000-unit quantities. For more information about Analog Devices’ high performance iMEMS microphones, visit www.analog.com/mic.
Due to the finding that Knowles violated patent No. 7,364,942, related to Wafer Anti-Stiction Application (WASA). The ITC decision confirms initial ruling by Robert Rogers earlier. (A copy of Analog Devices announcement is here. A direct link is here). Meanwhile, Analog Devices seeks to recover financially from Knowles, saying"
“In our pending lawsuit against Knowles in Delaware, we expect to recover significant financial damages for Knowles’ past sales of infringing MEMS microphones. In addition, we will do what we can to insure that Knowles does not import infringing products into the United States, either directly or indirectly.”
Meanwhile, Knowles announces that MEMS microphone business will continue. (Here is a link to Reuters news. Here is a pdf copy). Knowles claims the following: "The ITC Investigation was initiated in December 2009 based on ADI’s allegation that Knowles’s MEMS microphones infringed two patents that covered processes for the manufacture of these devices. Knowles no longer uses the processes at issue in the ITC case, having transitioned all of its production to one of its manufacturing processes that ADI did not accuse of infringement during the ITC investigation. The ITC has now expressly affirmed an earlier ruling that products manufactured under Knowles’s current process would not be subject to any exclusion order issued by the ITC. The ITC’s decision also made clear that imports by Knowles’s customers who incorporate Knowles’s microphones into their products may continue without interruption, regardless of the process used to manufacture those microphones. As a result, Knowles expects its operations and its customers’ operations to continue as normal."
A ruling directly downloaded from ITC website published on November 2011 is attached here. Among many findings, ITS judge claims that:
Claims 12, 15, 31, 34, 35, 38 and 29 of US Pat. No. 7,220,614 are not valid.
2. Claims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 of US Pat. No. 7,364,942 are not valid.
3. Knowles infringes claims 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 of US Pat. No. 7,364,942. However, the patent claims are not valid.
Knowles Electronics, LLC announced today that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) final determination that MEMS Technology Berhad’s (MemsTech) importation and sale of certain MEMS microphone packages infringes Knowles’s U.S. Patents 7,242,089 and 6,781,231. The Court of Appeals held that Knowles’s patents are valid and enforceable, and affirmed the ITC’s exclusion order barring MemsTech from importing its infringing products into the U.S.
MEMSTech petitioned ITC to rescind all aspects of the June 2009 limited exclusion order because ITC has invalidated Knwoles patent in the '695' investigation. The Commission therefore determined to rescind the portions of the June 12, 2009 exclusion order that refer to claim 1 of the ‘231 patent and claims 1, 2, 17, and 20 of the ‘089 patent. All other provisions of the June 12, 2009 limited exclusion order remain in effect.
In a document that can be obtained online, ITC stated:
On the same day, ITC also ruled separately, affirm in part and reject in part an earlier decision:
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