Samsung and Toshiba have decided to extend their semiconductor patent cross-licensing agreement which ran from September 2002 to March 2009. No timetable was given for the new agreement but it is estimated that it will run for seven years, the same timeframe for the earlier announced Samsung-SanDisk patent cross license agreement.
As the inventor of NAND flash memory, Toshiba has the largest portfolio of NAND flash memory patents with a couple thousand patents. Despite being the No. 2 NAND flash memory supplier, Toshiba has been at the forefront of introducing new process technologies. Its super self-aligned STI process introduced in its 90nm NAND flash products were copied by other vendors in their 70nm and 60nm processes. The company was also the first to introduce new materials for the wordline and bitline in its 56nm process, the same materials which were incorporated into Samsung's 42nm process. And the company also led the transition to 64-cell NAND strings.
By signing these agreements with Toshiba and SanDisk, Samsung continues to have access to important NAND flash process technology as well as multi-level cell flash memory design IP relevant for future NAND flash generations.