WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The U.S. International Trade Commission will open a patent violation probe into Toshiba Corp.’s flash-memory chips and systems, and products containing them, the ITC said in a statement Thursday.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Lexar Media Inc. of Fremont, Calif., against Toshiba Corp. of Japan and its two U.S. units — Toshiba America Inc. of New York and Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. of Irvine, Calif. — on April 11.

In the complaint, Lexar alleges that the Toshiba products infringe on its patents and demands that sale of the products be suspended in the United States, based on Section 337 of the 1930 Tariff Act.

The major U.S. microchip manufacturer requests that the ITC issue a permanent exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders.

The products at issue are used in consumer electronics products, including flash drives, digital cameras, portable digital music recorders and players, and portable digital video recorders and players.

The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time, the commission said.

Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for the investigation to be completed.

Lexar and Toshiba are reportedly in the middle of a court battle in the United States over technology related to flash memories.

The ITC’s decision came after Toshiba announced Thursday in Tokyo a plan to invest 2.04 trillion yen over three years to boost output of computer chips and other products.

Its fiscal 2006-2008 business plan shows Toshiba will expand production of flash memory chips by building a fourth and fifth domestic plant amid increasing demand for the NAND-type memories mainly used in digital cameras and portable music players.

Toshiba will put additional money into its digital home appliances business, to stay competitive against rivals, including South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

Toshiba said in late April that its group net profit rose 69.8 percent to 78.19 billion yen, or 24.32 yen per share, during the last business year from a year ago for the fourth straight year of growth on the strength of its personal computers and other digital products.

Its consolidated operating profit advanced 55.4 percent to 240.61 billion yen, and pretax profit was up 60.2 percent to 178.18 billion yen.

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