The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has notified Applied Materials Inc., the world's largest supplier of manufacturing and testing equipment to the semiconductor industry, that it has begun an investigation of the company's licensing practices, Applied Materials said Friday.
In a brief statement, Santa Clara, California-based Applied Materials said it believes that its technology licensing practices are in compliance with the law, and said it will cooperate fully with the DOJ in its investigation. The company sought to play down the significance of the probe.
"This appears to be a routine inquiry into a small part of Applied Materials' business -- licensing of intellectual property, including patents," Joseph Sweeney, Applied Materials group vice president of legal affairs and intellectual property, said in the statement.
"We anticipate that following an evaluation of the facts, the Department staff will conclude that no further action is warranted and the investigation will be closed," he said.
Applied Materials had fiscal 1999 revenues of US$5.1 billion and employs approximately 20,300 workers in 14 countries, including the U.S., Israel, Japan and South Korea.
Applied Materials can be reached at +1-408-727-5555, and on the Web at http://www.appliedmaterials.com/.