Amid an attempt by US President Joe Biden to ease the US-China tension in an APEC summit with his Chinese counterpart, Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC) filed a lawsuit on November 9 against US-based Micron Technology and its wholly-owned subsidiary Micron Consumer Products Group in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
According to Chinese media Yican and IC Smart, the lawsuit was meant to end Micron's widespread and unauthorized use of its patented innovations, citing Micron's illegal use of its patented technology to fend off market competition and gain and protect market share. YMTC alleged that Micron had infringed on US patents, including US10950623, US11501822, US10658378, US10-937806, US10861872, US11468957, US11600342, and US_10868031_B2. These patents cover 96-layer, 128-layer, 176-layer, and 232-layer 3D NAND products.
YMTC, China-based largest 3D NAND Flash provider, once reportedly joined the ranks of Apple supplier list, offering memory products before geopolitical pressures stopped the partnership, according to an earlier Financial Times report. TechInsights also found that YMTC had shipped 232-layer NAND Flash, underscoring its quick pace to catch up with rivals. According to the indictment, YMTC noted it is no longer a new market entrant but has become a significant player in the global 3D NAND market.
In 2018, YMTC began shipping 32-layer 3D NAND Flash before mass-producing 64-layer 256GB TLC 3D NAND Flash in 2019. In 2020, skipping the 96-layer products, YMTC began developing 128-layer products. It is reported that YMTC has initiated production expansion and may accelerate financing for further expansion.
In October 2020, the US government imposed export curbs against Chinese chipmakers, including restrictions to prevent YMTC from acquiring equipment to develop advanced products of more than 128 layers, before adding it to the entity list in December 2022. Meanwhile, China also imposed a ban on Micron's products in China's critical information infrastructure.