(Reuters) - ASML, Europe's largest supplier to semiconductor manufacturers, said on Friday it had filed patent infringement cases against Nikon in Japan, a response to legal action taken by Nikon against the Dutch company.
The lawsuits involve semiconductor manufacturing equipment, flat panel display manufacturing equipment and digital cameras.
They were brought by ASML on its own and jointly with its strategic partner Carl Zeiss [CZTOP.UL], a German maker of optical systems and medical devices, ASML said in a statement.
Nikon, the world's eighth-largest chip equipment maker, said on Monday it had filed a patent case against ASML and Zeiss, accusing them of using its lithography technology without permission.
ASML, which denies infringing any of Nikon's patents, said it was left with no choice but to file counter-suits.
"Now that Nikon has decided to take this dispute to court, we also have to enforce our patent portfolio, and we will do this as broadly as possible," ASML Chief Executive Peter Wennink said in a statement, adding that it has tried for years to come to a cross-licensing agreement with Nikon.
Nikon was not immediately available for comment.
Additional suits will be brought in the United States, ASML said.
ASML dominates the market for semiconductor lithography machines, which map out electronic circuits on silicon wafers. The Netherlands-based firm has a 90 percent market share in such high-end machines, according to a January research report from Fitch Ratings.
(Reporting by Wout Vergauwen in Gdynia; Editing by Adrian Croft)