Toshiba ordered to pay Lexar $380m in patent dispute

Toshiba ordered to pay Lexar $380m in patent dispute

A jury in California has found Toshiba liable in a case concerning flash memory brought by Lexar Media and ordered Toshiba to pay US$380 million, Lexar said.

A jury in California has found Toshiba and one of its US units liable in a case brought by Lexar Media concerning flash memory and ordered Toshiba to pay $US380 million in damages.

Toshiba and Toshiba America Electronic Components were found liable of breach of fiduciary duty and theft of trade secrets in the case in the Superior Court for the State of California.

The jury also found Toshiba guilty of actions which may support punitive damages, executive vice-president and general counsel of Lexar, Eric Whitaker, said.

Evidence will be presented to the jury on Thursday to support a claim for further damages.

Whitaker said the amount of damages claimed would be made public in court on Thursday and would be based on the net worth of Toshiba.

Toshiba had no immediate comment.

At the root of the complaint is a business relationship gone sour. The two companies became partners in 1997 when Toshiba invested $US3 million in Lexar and received a seat on the company's board. Toshiba sat on the Lexar board for two-and-a-half years and through that position gained access to the company's technology and its business plans while at the same time working with SanDisk, a rival of Lexar, on plans to jointly develop flash memory chips, Lexar said.

"We think the way they did that was wrong," Whitaker said. "This [ruling] reaffirms the rules of the road."

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