dcsimg
RealTime IT News

Patriot Takes a Legal Stick to Intel

In a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, Patriot Scientific is adding Intel to its legal fight against five PC vendors.

San Diego-based Patriot, which sells embedded microprocessors for automotive and scientific applications, Wednesday filed a multiple-count patent infringement lawsuit against the No. 1 chipmaker. Patriot claims Intel's Pentium microprocessor contains "fundamental microprocessor technology," which Patriot recently received a patent for.

The patent at issue involves on-chip clocking technology. The suit seeks damages in excess of several hundred million dollars.

Patriot, which employs less than 10 people, said its claim is in response to a lawsuit filed by Intel on Feb. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The case stems from Patriot's suit against Matsushita, Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba and NEC because they ship desktops and laptops equipped with Intel chip.

"We are responding to the Intel action with counterclaims that will clearly identify infringement of our intellectual property," Patriot president and CEO Jeff Wallin said in a statement. "These protracted efforts of unauthorized use of Patriot Scientific property by Intel have enabled them to gain significant market share and achieve considerable economic advantage."

Representatives with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel were not immediately available for comment on the latest development in the case, but company spokesperson Chuck Mulloy told internetnews.com last week that Intel needed to respond.

"They had sued five of our customers," Mulloy said. "As we read [the suits], it became clear to us that our microprocessors don't infringe. So rather than wait for them to possibly sue us, we filed in the Northern District of California seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement."

Patriot's legal actions began last summer, shortly after the company, which is known for its IGNITE family of 32-bit RISC microprocessors, was awarded a patent for the way a microprocessor manages the operation of its clock, which controls its running speed. At the time, Patriot said in a statement that the patent "not only bolsters Patriot's licensable microprocessor IP portfolio, but further strengthens the company's patent rights."

The company has had settlement talks with all five of the vendors it has sued, but will not comment on specifics. (While Patriot had originally sued the five PC vendors separately, it recently moved to consolidate the suits in a single court.) Mulloy told internetnews.com Intel was not a part of the settlement talks.

Things could get messy for Intel if Patriot wins its lawsuit as the smaller company said microprocessors operating at speeds above 110 to 120 MHz are in violation of portions of Patriot Scientific's patent portfolio. From the time the patents were issued, Patriot estimates that more than $150 billion dollars worth of microprocessors have made use of its technology.

Patriot has previously stated publicly that it is seeking to grow the revenues it receives from licensing its patents. In June 2002, Patriot announced that it has received a $1 million investment from a group of investors led by Lincoln Ventures.