Sun Takes Taiwanese Voice Chip Maker to Court

Sun Microsystems Inc. is in a legal battle with an integrated circuit maker called Sunplus Technology for allegedly infringing its registered trademarks, Computerworld Hong Kong has learned.

According to a spokesperson at Taiwan-based Sunplus, the company produces voice chips under its own brand name primarily for toy manufacturers in Greater China. Legal action against Sunplus was taken in Hong Kong last July by Sun Microsystems, and the court ruled that Sunplus could no longer sell its products in Hong Kong under the Sunplus name. Sunplus is now in the process of appealing that ruling.

"Sun Microsystems had lodged the same accusation on us in Mainland China and Taiwan a year or two ago. The courts in both places ruled that there were no grounds for trademark infringement," said Wayne Shen, special assistant in the general manager's office of Sunplus Technology.

"We lost in Hong Kong because we registered here only late in 1994 and our attorneys weren't very good last time," he said.

Shen said the bone of contention is Sun Sparc, the microprocessor for Sun's Unix box, which can also be categorized under the broad family of integrated circuits. However, Shen maintains that "the two products obviously belong to very different markets," and he does not understand why Sun Microsystems is taking action against his company.

"There can be hundreds of companies with the name 'Sun' in Hong Kong and the region," said Shen.

Sun Microsystems officials declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing legal proceedings.

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