A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
The backstory: Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC) has been a big player in China's chip game since 2016, specializing in making NAND flash memory chips, which power our smartphones and storage devices. Last year, things got rocky when the US decided to limit YMTC's access to some American tech bits. It was part of a broader move to control how much chip tech gets exported to China.
Meanwhile, over in the US, chipmaking giant Micron found itself in a tight spot. China launched a cybersecurity investigation into Micron after all those US tech restrictions rolled out. This is significant because around 11% of Micron's revenue last year came from selling chips in China. When you add mainland China and Hong Kong together, they make up 15% of Micron's total revenue – US$5.2 billion, with Hong Kong contributing US$1.7 billion, according to Jefferies.
More recently: In May, China said that Micron's products failed a network security check, leading to a ban on their use in critical infrastructure. Despite these obstacles, Micron surprised many by announcing a big investment in its chip-packaging plant in the Chinese city of Xian and making a debut at a trade expo in Shanghai.
The development: YMTC just filed a lawsuit against Micron in the US. The essence of the claim is that Micron and its Consumer Products Group infringed on eight YMTC patents. According to YMTC, Micron used these patents to get ahead in the game, snatching market share without offering fair compensation. While Micron has kept mum about the nitty-gritty of the lawsuit, YMTC, in a statement to Reuters, is optimistic about a quick resolution.
"While we cannot discuss the specifics of pending litigation, I can confirm that YMTC recently filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Micron Technology, Inc for infringement of our company’s patents related to the design, manufacture and operation of 3D NAND technology," said YMTC in a statement to Reuters. "We are confident that this matter will be resolved swiftly."
"This investment project demonstrates Micron's unwavering commitment to its China business and team," Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra was quoted as saying in June.
"We also will engage with key allies and partners to ensure we are closely coordinated to address distortions of the memory chip market caused by China's actions," said the US Commerce Department in May about the decision to ban Micron’s products from key infrastructure.