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Via buying Cyrix in bid to save PC133 from Intel?

Cross-licence deals, crossed wires, cross Chipzillas?

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Via Technologies' licensing spat with Intel gets more complicated by the day - according to US mag EBN, the company is in negotiation to buy NatSemi's Cyrix unit. (See story) EBN reports that NatSemi has confirmed it's in talks with Via, and suggests that the deal could be clinched as early as tomorrow (Wednesday). If it does roll, it will certainly put the patents among the pigeons. Intel launched legal action Via for the second time last week (See story), claiming the company was in breach of the deal it struck with Intel last November. Intel's move was undoubtedly prompted by its need to put the brakes on PC133 memory, and as we noted with some amusement in our report over the weekend, Intel broad-ranging cross licence deals with NatSemi appear to mean one thing when it's Intel that needs the patents, but another if a NatSemi customer does. Intel is of the view that Via's use of NatSemi fabbing for its chipsets doesn't put Via in the clear, licence-wise, although Via obviously thought the long standing Intel-NatSemi cross-licence covered this. But EBN reports that Via intends to buy Cyrix and pay NatSemi either royalties or cash for the use of the x86 cross-licence NatSemi has with Intel (N.B., this is another one). The upshot will be co-branded NatSemi/Via chipsets produced by NatSemi fabs, and shipping in July. So there's the cunning plan. NatSemi offloads Cyrix in time for its self-imposed 30th June deadline, Visa bounds free from Intel's restrictions on it shipping PC133 chipsets, and further legal salvoes are no doubt exchanged. ®

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