The recent patent infringement lawsuit that Taiwan-based IC designer VIA Technologies filed against MediaTek is not expected to directly impact the optical storage drive industry in the near future, according to local optical drive manufacturers.
Both Quanta Storage and BenQ, which reportedly order various optical storage chips from either or both of the IC design companies, said they would not consider replacing their chip suppliers over the legal battle in the near future. Shipments of current optical drive products will be unaffected before the court rules on the case, the drive makers said.
The remarks came after a press release by VIA on Tuesday, which stated that the company had sued MediaTek for allegedly violating a US patent held by VIA with its DVD-ROM, CD-RW and combo controller chips. Although VIA did not name DVD player products in the statement, they could also be involved in the case as some of the chips apply the same patent used for DVD-ROM chips, VIA told DigiTimes.
In response, MediaTek said that it had not received the formal legal complaint and would comment only after seeing the documents. According to sources, MediaTek’s PC-use optical storage chips currently account for 55-60% of the company’s total revenues, while the remainder comes from the DVD player sector. In the first quarter of 2003, MediaTek generated about NT$8.60 billion in revenues.
The two IC design companies have taken a series of legal actions against each other over optical storage chip patents over the past year. Last June, MediaTek brought both VIA and AOpen, a Taiwanese optical storage drive maker, to court for two alleged CD-ROM drive chip patent infringements. So far no major result has emerged in the case.
Optical storage drive makers said they expect the new case to also take considerable time before the two sides can obtain a court ruling or reach a resolution, and therefore they do not foresee a major influence from the dispute in the near future.