Intel's IA64 programme threatened by IMS patent

Could cost chip giant $$$ billions $$$

A source close to the ongoing spat between Intel, Techsearch and ILDF has suggested that the possession of an emulation patent could threaten Intel's royalties on Merced. Details of the International Meta Systems (IMS) patent are contained in this story. There are also references there to previous stories. It emerged earlier that Intel had formed a shell company in the Cayman Islands in an attempt to blag the patent. IMS has gone belly-up, and the patent is now assigned to Techsearch. According to the source, the IMS patent is technically unremarkable, but does offer clever features to help one processor emulate another, using microcode. He said the patented technique, by itself, is not an earth-shattering invention and anyone clever enough, including Intel engineers, could have come up with a similar technique. Intel is interested in the patent because it is concerned it has infringed the IMS patent and could also accidentally infringe the patent with future processor designs. The technique in the patent is likely to be used by Intel to ensure compatibility between future and current processor designs. Any infringement of the IMS patent could potentially mean Intel has to pay billions of dollars to the patent owner (now Techsearch). Although the chip giant claims the patent is void because it was disclosed earlier, that is a matter which is under dispute. Meanwhile, other sources tell The Register that the FBI, the SEC and the FTC are taking an interest in the case... ®

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