Patent Suit Targets Dell, Intel

A privately owned chip design firm in Santa Clara, Calif. is taking on
Dell and Intel in a Texas courtroom
over several alleged patent violations.

MicroUnity Systems Engineering Friday said it
has filed its complaint in the United States District Court in Marshall,
Texas. The lawsuit alleges that certain Dell computers and Intel’s Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 chips infringe on seven of MicroUnity’s patents, filed as early as 1995. Four of
the patents share a common description, and two were filed only a few years
ago. MicroUnity did not specify damages in its filing.

The patents in question cover aspects of multimedia processing and
computer architecture such as SSE (Streaming SIMD Extension) and SSE2
multimedia extensions, as well as the HT (Hyper-Threading) features
being offered in Dell’s and Intel’s newest products.

Legal representatives of both Dell and Intel told
internetnews.com they had not seen the complaint and refused to
comment on the case.

MicroUnity CEO John Moussouris told internetnews.com his company
has had limited contact with Intel but declined to talk about the company’s
relationship with Dell. He said the suit is not an attempt to cash in on a
long tucked-away patent.

“This is not a lightweight get rich quick scheme. This has been emerging
over time,” Moussouris said. “We’ve assembled a legal team and patent
attorney, and we’ve been taking their advice. Historically, we’ve been
focused more on inventing and licensing our technologies to major U.S.
computer and semiconductor manufacturers.”

Moussouris, who inveted the RISC architecture and a co-founder of MIPS Computer Systems, said his company
received funding from major U.S. corporate investors, but declined to
identify either the investors or MicroUnity’s customers, citing
non-disclosure agreements.

MicroUnity’s licensable platform is known as BroadMX, which focuses on
broadband algorithms, including low-level modem, source coding and
encryption. The company has not yet publicly announced the details of
BroadMX. However, it said it is disclosing the complete details privately
to customers.

The only other time MicroUnity has been embroiled in a
patent suit, according to Moussouris, was in 1997, in its suit against
Precim Corp., a subsidiary of Technology
Modeling Associates Inc., which Fremont, Calif.-based Avant! acquired in
January 1998. That suit was settled out of court.

Moussouris said he’s ready to take on Dell and Intel if necessary but is
keeping open the company’s option to settle out of court.

“Either of those scenarios is alright with us,” he said.

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