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TAP TIMES                                              Volume 10, Number 11

                                                                       November-December 2019
           Test, Assembly & Packaging TIMES

           TI’s bottom-gating furor and other courtroom tales

                            he recent spate of law-
                            suits between TSMC
                            and GLOBALFOUND-
                            RIES reminded me of
                            one of the most infa-
                            mous lawsuits in the
                            semiconductor packag-
                            ing area: Bottom-gating
                            for plastic packages.

        Taking-on five competitors
        In 1990, Texas Instruments—not a small
        company then or now—decided to take on
        five competitors, alleging the five infringed
        TI patent 4,043,027 (the ‘027 patent).

                       Ron Iscoff, Editor

        The alleged infringers were Analog De-
        vices, Cypress Semiconductor, Integrated
        Device Technology, LSI Logic and VLSI

        ITC ruling
        In addition to being played out in a num-               The  ‘027  patent  (above),  known  as  “Pro-
                                                                cess  for  Encapsulating  Electronic  Compo-
        ber of courtrooms, the outcome was ulti-
        mately decided by the U.S. International                nents in Plastic” had been filed on July 30,
                                                                1973.  Its inventors were TI engineers Rob-
        Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.,
        where it was called “In the Matter of Cer-              ert Birchler in Dallas and E.R. Williams Jr.,
        tain Plastic Encapsulated Integrated Cir-               of Scottsdale, Ariz.
        cuits,” or Investigation 337-TA-315.
                                                                It’s likely that neither engineer had any in-
                                                                kling  that  this  plastic  packaging  advance
        At the time, 1990, with the filing in the
        ITC, much of the industry was, to say the               would set the IC packaging industry on its
        least, in a tizzy over TI’s litigation.                 ear.                                        Next page
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