© ASML

“We want to compete in business, not in court.”

ASML, Carl Zeiss and Nikon have put an end to their long-lasting dispute and legal proceedings over patents for lithography equipment and digital cameras. ASML and Zeiss together will be paying Nikon €150 million. Peter Wennink, CEO at ASML, explains the decision by pointing at the legal costs and loss of energy caused by it. “We want to compete in business, not in court.”

The parties reached a binding agreement to do so in a Memorandum of Understanding that concerns all pending disputes between Nikon, ASML and Zeiss in Europe, Japan, and the United States, including at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The three companies expect to execute a definitive settlement and cross-license agreement and dismiss all legal proceedings between the parties in February 2019. On top of the payment, the agreement includes mutual royalty payments of 0.8% over the sales of immersion lithography systems for 10 years.

The conflict heated up in April of 2017 when Nikon sued ASML and its strategic partner Zeiss. ASML immediately announced a counter-attack and started filing initial legal claims against Nikon for infringement of more than 10 patents, related to a broad range of products in the fields of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, flat panel display manufacturing equipment, and digital cameras. ASML always categorically denied infringing any of Nikon’s patents.

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.