An Israeli engineer, Zvi Lahat, is suing Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), which has a market cap of $20.9 billion. Lahat claims that Applied Materials's value rose hundreds of percent through the illegal use of his invention for copper plating of silicon wafers for microelectronic processors.
Lahat says that Applied Materials contacted him though his engineering firm, Tamhil Tech, and asked him to demonstrate his capabilities. He hired Nicholay Kovarsky, another scientist in the applied materials coating field. Lahat names the scientist as a respondent in the filing.
Lahat's statement of claim alleges that Kovarsky went to the US in 1999 to present Lahat's invention to Applied Materials. Lahat and Kovarsky agreed that if Applied Materials showed interest in the invention in a manner that would lead to a contract, Lahat would hire Kovarsky to develop the project.
The statement of claim says that when Kovarsky returned to Israel, he told Lahat Applied Materials believed that Lahat's ideas provided a good solution to a problem facing the company, and that Lahat and his company should begin preparing to provide his solution. Lahat alleges that, immediately afterwards, Kovarsky began avoiding him and preventing him from contacting Applied Materials directly.
Kovarsky ultimately told Lahat that he was forced to stop working for him, because he found a tempting job in the US. Since Lahat was unable to contact Applied Materials directly, he assumed that the company had decided not to use his invention.
The statement of claims alleges that, only after several years, did Lahat discover that Kovarsky was working for Applied Materials, where he developed Lahat's invention.
Lahat presented Applied Materials's patents, which he claims are based on his invention. Kovarsky is the signatory on most of the documents. He recently left Applied Materials.
Lahat says that when he approached Applied Materials Israel Ltd., he was rebuffed. Later Applied Materials Israel told him, on behalf of Applied Materials Inc., that his claims were baseless.
Lahat says that copper coating is now considered the microelectronics industry standard. He believes that this field turned Applied Materials into the leading company in the field. He claims that Applied Materials hired Kovarsky knowing that the invention was not his.
Applied Materials said, "The company, which is based on innovation, scrupulously protects its and others' intellectual property. We do not comment on matters pending in court."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 2, 2011
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