RealTime IT News

TI, Intergraph Settle Chip Patent Dispute

Chipmaker Intergraph announced Wednesday that it has settled its patent disputes with Texas Instruments and will dismiss all claims and suits against each other.

As part of the settlement, Dallas-based TI will take a patent license to three Intergraph patents which define key aspects of parallel instruction computing (PIC). The license establishes a royalty rate to be paid by TI for the use of Intergraph's PIC technology in its TMS320C60000 family of processors.

Under the terms of the license, TI also has elected to prepay the royalty as a one-time, lump sum of $18 million.

"We're pleased at the settlement that has been achieved," said a restrained Sharon Hampton, a spokesperson for TI. "[From our perspective, settling] was a business decision based on an evaluation of the case and cost of further litigation."

At Huntsville, Ala.-based Intergraph, however, the mood was downright jovial. CEO and President Halsey Wise said, "[This] continues to demonstrate the strength of our patents and the effectiveness of our IP division." David Vance Lucas, general counsel for the firm, added that the settlement "only increase[s] our resolve and focus with regard to our patent licensing and litigation program."

The disagreement began back on January 30, when Intergraph's intellectual property division filed a lawsuit charging that the patented PIC technology was an essential component of the TI family of Digital Signal Processors and therefore infringed upon the original Intergraph patents. Specifically, the three patents 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."

The first Intergraph lawsuit claimed that the patents were used in the early 1990s to develop Intergraph's C5 Clipper microprocessor, while TI's TMS320C6000 family of products was introduced in 1997. The Clipper was a processor that was touted for its technical capabilities but failed to achieve market success.

In response to this lawsuit, TI filed two separate countersuits against Intergraph on May 5 and May 9, alleging patent infringement of eight patents against a variety of Intergraph products. The settlement effectively nullifies the countersuits and resolves TI's current and any prospective patent claims against Intergraph.

Intergraph, which earlier this year received a $150 million from Intel as settlement in a separate case, and says it continues to fight Dell Computer , Hewlett-Packard , and Gateway over Clipper memory management patents.

The trial in that case is scheduled to begin Aug. 2, 2004, and is scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.