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Intel could sue OEMs over Katmai and IA-64 – MS exec

And Maritz also appears to think MS could sue OEMs for bundling Linux on Intel machines

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Intel may be planning to use Katmai and IA-64 technology in a patent infringement campaign against its rivals and OEMs, according to Paul Maritz. In his deposition for the antitrust trial, released yesterday, the Microsoft group VP for platforms and applications points to Intel's failure to renew a deal first struck between the companies over the Pentium Pro. This deal was a "legally binding... reciprocal covenant not to sue each other's customers, thus enabling Intel Pentium Pro processors to be used with non-Microsoft software, and compatible non-Intel processors." The conclusion of this agreement had stemmed from Intel's use of its US Patent No. 4,972338, "Memory Management for Microprocessor System," during the early 90s. Intel had gone for Cyrix and AMD, and then for Twinhead: "Twinhead was using microprocessors manufactured by a company under license from Intel," says Maritz. "Nevertheless, Intel alleged that Twinhead's installation of Windows on personal computers built on these microprocessors induced infringement of Intel's '338 patent." Note that this is the killer - Intel was using a 'combination' infringement claim based on the notion that use of Windows enabled the infringement of Intel's patent. So as Maritz tells it, the reciprocal covenant not to sue was important to Microsoft. But before we continue we'll just draw the reciprocal bit to your attention again: "... thus enabling Intel Pentium Pro processors to be used with non-Microsoft software." Maritz is saying that without such agreements (which no longer exist, as he says), Microsoft could sue OEMs for bundling Linux on Intel-based machines. So Microsoft now can - will it? Maritz goes on to say that the legal agreement wasn't extended to MMX, but that Intel provided an "informal assurance" that it would licence MMX. He notes that it licensed MMX to AMD "only much later." The drawbridge has in Maritz's view been pulled up further with Katmai and IA-64. "It is worth noting that Intel has not provided Microsoft any assurances that Microsoft's support for new MMX2, or "Katmai" technology, will not later provide a basis for patent infringement lawsuits by Intel against Microsoft or our customers. Nevertheless, Microsoft is proceeding to provide support for Katmai." And what follows is even more ominous: "Intel and Hewlett-Packard have expressly declined to provide Microsoft with any assurance that other microprocessor manufacturers will have the ability to develop their own implementations of the IA-64 architecture of the upcoming Merced microprocessor, yet Microsoft is moving forward with a new 64-bit version of Windows NT for that microprocessor." We did of course know already that Intel - just like Microsoft - wants control of as much of its platform as it can get away with. And that Intel - just like Microsoft - has been progressively extending the boundaries of its control. But it's nice of Maritz to point it out, even if the bulk of his deposition is mind-splittingly, vapidly dull. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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