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How Intel and HP shield patents from prying eyes

A strange Californian Institute seems to 'look after' them for them, out if sight of rivals

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If you've ever wondered what Intel and HP might be doing together in the microprocessor design area, then be sure to drop by the Institute for the Development of Emerging Architectures (IDEA) in Cupertino. Last year it was awarded a patent, US-5652859 for a "Method and apparatus for handling snoops in multiprocessor caches having internal buffer queues", and it also has four others - with no doubt more in the, er, cache. So what's interesting about this? Well, don't apply there for a job because IDEA turns out to be a front organisation for Intel and HP, who assign some of their patents to the Institute. A close study of the patents, and of course those that cross-reference them, will yield some interesting information about the duo's collaboration. The whole point of IDEA was to make it difficult for rivals to know what was happening, as patent searches on Intel and HP would not have given direct information about the patents held by IDEA. The way it worked was that the two companies just assigned the patents that came from their collaboration to IDEA. An Intel spokesman has confirmed that IDEA was founded to hold patents, but declined to say why this should be. ® Click for more stories

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