What political apparatus and rules allow the United States to have leverage against companies when it has several intellectual properties associated?

Only the Dutch manufacturer ASML makes the lithography machines that use the short wavelengths at the extreme end of the ultraviolet spectrum to shrink transistors to such tiny dimensions. And the fabrication plants are extremely expensive, costing up to US$20 billion each.

In 2020, the US forced the Dutch government to ban exports of ASML’s most sophisticated lithography machines to China. ASML uses American intellectual property, giving Washington leverage.


It says it's because of the intellectual property that ASML has political leverage over ASML.

And afterwards it says that ASML doesn't have to listen to the U.S. regarding product that doesn't use enough of American intellectual properties:

As Scott Foster and Jeff Pao reported in Asia Times, Washington last month asked the Dutch government to stop ASML from selling the older DUV machines to China as well.

Semiconductor Industry executives told Asia Times that the Dutch would not accede to the American demand. ASML’s China sales exceeded $2.7 billion in 2021, including the 81 DUV lithography machines.

The American intellectual property (IP) content of the older machines isn’t big enough to justify an American ban, analysts and executives say.

Through what laws and organisms can the United States use its intellectual properties to force companies to abide by its will? I am thinking the United States Patent and Trademark Office can do something against ASML, but since ASML doesn't infringe on anyone's patent by exporting goods, I am not sure what laws allow the United States to exercise such influence and only when a lot of American intellectual properties are involved.

  • 2
    In the specific example you give, it's the Dutch government issuing an export ban, so it's Dutch law, not US which would apply.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 9:10
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement (the successor to COCOM) most likely came into play. Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


ASML has to license intellectual property from US IP owners.

This means USA has capability to demand US IP owners to not allow these technologies to be transferred to China, and they would be forced to add such provisions to their license agreement with ASML, that ASML does not ship certain technologies to China or breach the terms of the license.

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