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NOV.-DEC. 2019    TAP TIMES          -4-           By 1992, Davis said, TI was making $391
                                                                million from patent royalties and only
                                                                $274 million in operating income.
                  Bottom-gating (from 3)


        In a book written by James F. Davis, a                  Parallel conductors
        patent attorney for TI and later a federal              The ‘027 patent describes the invention
        judge, Davis said the ‘027 patent case                  as “a method of making a semiconductor
        “was the largest and most important mat-                device . . . in which a plurality of gener-
        ter I handled for TI.”                                  ally parallel conductors are provided, at
                                                                least one of which has a mounting portion
                                                                thereon.
        Starts and stops
        Inventors Birchler and Wil-                             “A semiconductor wafer is coupled to the
        liams, Davis said, began for-                           mounting portion while means are provid-
        mulating the ‘027 patent in                             ed for coupling the other conductors to the
        the mid-1960s.  “It took them                           semiconductor wafer.
        many starts and stops before
        finding the right combina-                              “An integrally molded mass of insulation
        tion of plastic material, size of                       material embeds the semiconductor wafer,
        molds and conditions of the                             and the mouting portion, as well as the
        process before getting it right.”                       means connecting the conductors to the
                                                                semiconductor wafer.”
        Earlier methods of encapsulation, Davis
        said, “required a lot of hand labor and ex-             The patent noted the method with which
        pense.”  With bottom gating, the cost went              the fluid plastic is gated into the mold, “so
        from “dollars per chip to a few cents.  The             as to prevent damage to the delicate whis-
        industry worldwide immediately adopted                  ker wire leads and transistor wafer “is an
        the bottom-gating molding process.                      important aspect of the invention.”


        By 1987, TI had licensed most of the do-                In general, this means introducing plastic
        mestic semiconductor makers that adopt-                 into into part of the mold cavity which is
        ed bottom gating.  The holdouts contend-                remote from both the transistor and paral-
        ed that the ‘027 patent was invalid and                 lel to the whisker-wire leads.
        staunchly refused to pay royalties.

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        10-day trial                                            Another significant patent claim is the pro-
        In May 1991, TI’s complaint was heard be-               cess’ ability to encapsulate without using a
        fore the U.S. ITC, with Davis as lead coun-             header, common in the early days of chip
        sel and an “army of 15 lawyers, paralegals              packaging when TO cans were used.
        and staff” in attendance.  The trial lasted
        for 10 days.                                            The ITC hearings resulted in many hun-
                                                                dreds of pages of legal pleadings, orders
        On Dec. 2, 1991, the ITC ruled in TI’s                  and exclusions.
        favor—which was later appealed.  None-
        theless, the patent resulted in hundreds of             In TI’s initial action with the ITC, page 6
        millions of dollars in additional revenue for
        the Dallas, Texas-based chip company.                   *Memoirs—Stories from a Life Enjoyed Living, Jim
                                                                Davis, FriesenPress, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2014.
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