Texas firm takes Actions Semiconductor before a trade arbiter with power to quickly ban imports to US Semiconductor firm SigmaTel has raised the stakes in its patent infringement dispute with mainland-based rival Actions Semiconductor. Yesterday, the Texas firm filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) that could lead to the blocking of imports containing its rival's products to the United States. 'When we find our patents have been infringed, we will take whatever measures are needed to gain relief from the infraction,' SigmaTel chief executive and president Ron Edgerton said. 'Our customers, our business and the MP3 player market space are all hurt when intellectual property rights are disregarded by the competition.' The move coincided with an advertisement in the South China Morning Post that said: 'SigmaTel will pursue protection of its [intellectual property] anywhere such violations can be confirmed, whether Asia, Europe, the US, or any other ... area of the world.' SigmaTel sued Zhuhai-based Actions Semiconductor in a US federal court in Texas two months ago, citing violation of several power management patents. Sonic Impact, a San Diego-based firm named co-defendant in the suit on the grounds that it used the mainland firm's chips in its products, settled out of court in February. It agreed to use SigmaTel's chip designs for two years and pay royalties on all previous shipments. Yesterday, Actions Semiconductor counsel Xie Qiwen said a legal firm hired in California to investigate the claims had 'concluded that Actions Semiconductor has not been engaged in any infringement of SigmaTel patents'. He added that since Actions Semiconductor had not yet received a summons to appear in court, he could not comment on the company's next step in defending itself. But SigmaTel's decision to bring the dispute before the ITC is a potentially damaging blow to its mainland rival. The commission has the power to ban imports if it finds evidence of patent or trademark infringement. According to the ITC website, 'the primary remedy available ... is an exclusion order that directs customs to stop infringing imports from entering the United States'. 'In addition, the commission may issue cease-and-desist orders against named importers and other persons engaged in unfair acts.' The commission is proving a popular channel through which to unravel intellectual property disputes among the region's technology firms. Last year, it heard the dispute between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and mainland-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). In contrast to the often lengthy process of going through the US federal courts, the ITC must establish a conclusion within 45 days of beginning a probe. SMIC and TSMC agreed to an out-of-court settlement just before the commission was due to publish its findings. 'We want to halt the imports of all products produced by infringements of our intellectual property,' SigmaTel Asia vice-president Jose Lau said, 'and the ITC provides the means to achieve that.' Together with SigmaTel's publicity campaign - adverts will run in two other Hong Kong publications today - yesterday's announcement shows its determination to protect its intellectual property in a country that has its biggest customers. During a conference call with analysts in January, Mr Edgerton said 95 per cent of SigmaTel's products were sold to customers such as Amax in the mainland before being shipped overseas.