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Intergraph Slaps Patent Suit on TI

Fresh off a legal victory and a $300 million settlement in a patent dispute with Intel Corp., chip designer Intergraph is suing Texas Instruments over alleged patent breaches.

The Huntsville, Ala.-based Intergraph is alleging Texas Instruments infringed three patents, which define portions of parallel instruction computing (PIC). It said research showed PIC to be a crucial component in Dallas-based Texas Instruments' TMS320C6000 family of digital signal processors (DSP).

Intergraph claims it developed and patented the PIC technology in the early 1990s for use in its C5 Clipper microprocessor while TI's TMS320C6000 family of products was introduced much later -- in 1997.

Officials at Texas Instruments could not be reached for comment at press time.

Intergraph, which has already received a $150 million payment from Intel as settlement in a separate case, said the patents being infringed by TI were U.S. Patent No. 5,560,028 for "Software Scheduled Superscalar Computer Architecture," U.S. Patent No. 5,794,003 for "Instruction Cache Associative Crossbar Switch System," and U.S. Patent No. 6,360,313 B1 for "Instruction Cache Associative Crossbar Switch."

It said TI's family of DSPs are generally used as high-performance embedded controllers in consumer products. Applications include audio and video encoders and decoders, broadband solutions, optical networking, telephony, voice processing and wireless communications.

The company, which also sued Dell Computer , Hewlett-Packard and Gateway last December over its Clipper memory management patents, said the patents that TI is allegedly infringing "have already been found to be valid and enforceable by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and were also licensed by Fujitsu in September 2002."

"It is necessary that we take this step to protect our intellectual property. Our legacy in advanced microprocessor design has left Intergraph and its shareholders with valuable patents," Intergraph CEO Jim Taylor said in a statement.

The Clipper patents being contested with Dell, HP and Gateway was at the core of the Intel settlement of a 1997 lawsuit. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel agreed to a $300 million settlement and inked a cross license agreement that allows it to take ownership of certain unrelated patents from Intergraph.

That settlement is different from another legal squabble between Intergraph and Intel over the PIC technology. A judge ruled in favor of Intergraph but Intel plans to appeal the verdict.