TOKYO (04/11/2000) - The Tokyo Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by Texas Instruments Inc. over a previous ruling in a patent infringement dispute with Fujitsu Ltd. that has been going on since 1991.
The court ruled the contents of patent under question, known as the 275 Kilby Patent, were the same as those of another patent obtained by TI in the past and ruled invalid by another court. As such, it rejected TI's claims because it judged that the patent under question in the case could also be found to be invalid, said Bob Pomeroy, a spokesman for Fujitsu.
"Obviously, we're pleased with the ruling," said the Fujitsu spokesman although he declined to go further. A spokesperson for TI could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling represents a landmark in Japanese patent law, according to local observers, because it shows a court can block a patent case from proceeding if it finds evidence that the patent is invalid. The Kyodo News Service said it reverses a precedent set by the Great Court of Cassation, Japan's pre-World War II top court, that said only the Patent Office can decide the validity of a patent.
The dispute between Fujitsu and TI dates back to 1991 when Fujitsu filed a suit against TI in the Tokyo District Court. Fujitsu was seeking the court to declare the 275 Kilby Patent did not cover its products. After a ruling in favor of Fujitsu, TI filed an appeal at the Tokyo District Court in late 1994.
The appeal was denied and, in 1997, TI took the matter to the Tokyo Supreme Court where it has been until today.
Fujitsu and TI signed a 10-year worldwide patent cross licensing agreement in 1996 that covered all patents owned by the two companies with the exception of the 275 Kilby Patent under question.
Fujitsu, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.fujitsu.co.jp. Texas Instruments, in Dallas, can be found on the Web at http://www.ti.com.