Last week, in the midst of a highly publicized lawsuit against Samsung , news broke that Apple was being sued by Via Technologies Inc. In question: Three patents related to microprocessors in tablets and smartphones. If Asian trade publication DigiTimes is to be believed, market watchers are upbeat about VIA prevailing in this case, with a little friendly help from Google.
Who is VIA Technologies? A Taipei-based semiconductor manufacturer, VIA files as the world’s largest independent manufacturer of motherboard chipsets. The company currently holds more than five thousand patents. But why would a second-tier x86 microprocessor maker sue Apple? Well, VIA Technologies and HTC both share the same parent company, the Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate whose diverse interests include biotechnology, petrochemical processing and production of electronics components.
One of the world’s ten biggest petrochemical producers, the Formosa Plastics Group was founded by Wang Yung-ching (regarded as Taiwan’s most influential entrepreneur) and his brother Wang Yung-tsai. The group is headed by CEO Wenchi Chen and chaired by Lee Chih-tsuen. But wait, there’s more. As observed by John Oram over at the Bright Side of News* blog, VIA and HTC also share family ties:
The wife of VIA Technologies’ CEO is Ms. Cher Wang, Chairperson and Co-Founder of HTC. In 1997, at the age of 39, Wang launched HTC along with associates HT Cho and Peter Chou. Wang is the daughter of Y.C. Wang, who co-founded the conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group. Formosa Plastics Group and the Wang Family are one of most successful family enterprises in Asia. Cher Wang is known as a highly successful business woman ranked in 20th spot on Forbes list of the 2011 World’s Most Powerful Women.
Those juicy bits were also relayed by other publications, including Webwereld.nl. Wang was instrumental in a July deal when VIA sold graphics chip maker S3 Graphics to HTC for $300 million. HTC then used patents from S3 Graphics in conjunction with the Motorola patents Google transferred to them to countersue Apple. Has Apple opened Pandora’s box by going after HTC?
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