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Applied Materials, Therma-Wave Settle Patent Spat

Two Silicon Valley-based chip-equipment makers Friday put aside their differences and settled a patent lawsuit.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Applied Materials said it has settled a patent infringement lawsuit between Therma-Wave

The litigation centers on Boxer Cross, a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Materials, which it acquired back in April.

Under the settlement, Therma-Wave said it will dismiss its pending patent infringement claims against Boxer Cross "with prejudice." Boxer Cross in turn said it will dismiss its pending patent infringement claims against Therma-Wave without prejudice and will dismiss its pending state law claims with prejudice. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"We are pleased that we could resolve our dispute with Therma-Wave on mutually agreeable terms," said Joseph J. Sweeney, group vice president, Legal Affairs and Intellectual Property.

Founded in 1997, Boxer Cross is known for making in-line monitoring systems that help with electrical measurement data for controlling semiconductor processes. The company's products include the BX-10 Source/Drain and Ultra-Shallow Junction Measurement System and the BX-30 Advanced Interconnect Measurement System. Both products provide critical in-line electrical measurements on 200mm and 300mm product wafers to detect implant/anneal (BX-10) and dual damascene copper (BX-30) process variations.

The trouble started back in April 2002 when Therma-Wave accused Boxer Cross of infringing on a patent for technology found in Therma-Wave's ion implant monitoring products prior to Boxer's acquisition by Applied Materials. The original complaint sought to collect money damages in the amount of $400,000 per tool for the small number of tools sold by Boxer Cross.

Various injunctions and counter suits were suspended after Applied acquired Boxer Cross. Applied has since used its subsidiary's technology to improve its products for advanced 200mm and 300mm copper semiconductor fabrication plants .

Therma-Wave president and CEO Boris Lipkin said he was pleased to reach a settlement.

"With this agreement in place, Therma-Wave can focus all its energies on what we do best, the development, manufacture and sale of process control metrology systems," he said in a statement.