Intel, Via Settle Legal Row

Hoping to put the past aside, chip making companies Intel and Taiwan’s VIA Technologies have settled a series of pending patent lawsuits related to chipsets and microprocessors.

The agreement includes 11 pending cases spanning some 27 patents most centering on Intel’s Pentium 4 product line.

Under terms of the settlement, both companies Monday said they would dismiss all pending legal claims in five countries: the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China. Each company is responsible for its own attorney’s fees. Specific financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The companies also entered into a ten-year patent cross license agreement covering each company’s products. As part of the agreement Intel granted VIA a license to sell microprocessors that are compatible with its x86 instruction set but not pin compatible or bus compatible with Intel microprocessors.

Intel further agreed for a period of three years, not to assert its patents on VIA bus or pin compatible microprocessors. Intel also granted VIA a four year license to design and sell chip sets that are compatible with the Intel microprocessor bus and agreed not to assert its patents on VIA or its customers or distributors on such chip sets for a fifth year. The agreement will be royalty bearing to Intel for some products. The license agreements do not apply to S3 Graphics, a company partially owned by VIA.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel initiated the litigations in September 2001, claiming that VIA’s microprocessor and chipset products infringed Intel patents. VIA counter sued, claiming that Intel microprocessors infringed three patents VIA acquired in connection with its acquisition of IDT’s Centaur subsidiary.

This is not the first time the two companies have squared off in patent disagreements. In 1999, Intel accused Via of infringing its patents related to the Pentium III processor. That case also was settled out of court.

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