Samsung has now been ordered to pay $400 million in a dispute of the FinFET chip process for which a patent is held by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Specifically, the case was brought by KAIST IP US. That's a licensing arm of the university based out of Frisco Texas. FinFET had been co-developed by the company and the university but it's KAIST IP that holds the patent. The university was reportedly reluctant to do anything about the Korean tech giant initially due to its belief that FinFET would not really take off. For those who aren't aware, FinFET is the current driving solution that allows for chips used in smartphones and other technology to be built on the 10nm process and smaller. It's also used with some 14nm SoCs such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 645 or that same company's 7nm Snapdragon X24 Modem. Samsung has been using FinFET in its devices since at least its Galaxy S7 family of smartphones.
Meanwhile, two other companies who utilize the technology in question – Qualcomm Inc. and GlobalFoundries Inc. – were also involved in the dispute. Neither was ultimately hit with an order to pay for damages. That's a decision that likely stems from the fact that Samsung was arguably responsible for spreading the technology to other foundries, especially where Qualcomm is concerned. The two companies co-developed the 10nm FinFET process used in last year's most powerful smartphones thanks to its use in the Snapdragon 835 SoC and Samsung's Exynos 8895 SoC.
Samsung, for its part, released a statement shortly after the verdict was reached. This is not the first patent case the company has been involved in over the past several months. As with that other case, the company has vowed to use every tool at its disposal to fight this one. That's up to and including the filing of an appeal. That makes sense since the infringement here was determined by the courts to be deliberate or "willful." That effectively means that, at the court's discretion, its damages could increase significantly. In fact, KAIST could walk away with approximately $1.2 billion, around three times what was initially ordered.