Feeds

More Taiwanese mobo makers get jitters after Intel suit

FIC a big supplier to Compaq, it emerges

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

The lawsuits Intel issued at the end of last week to FIC (First International Computer) may be the first in a legal broadside against other firms. Lawsuits filed in the US, UK and Singapore, also name FIC affiliate, Everex, a US-based maker of computer systems. The suits appear to be based on the two companies' use of chips designed by Taiwan-based VIA Technologies. VIA, FIC and Everex all have ties to the giant Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) and the Wang family, which controls FPG. FIC supplies motherboards to several major PC makers, including Compaq. An FIC spokesperson tried to distance FIC from VIA, describing VIA as "totally independent from FIC." However, a VIA executive said the two companies were both part of the same group. Andrew Lin of Jardine Fleming Securities questioned Intel's motives, suggesting that the chipmaker was targeting VIA's affiliates to put pressure on VIA, while ignoring other companies that use the chipsets. He said he does not expect the suit to be successful. For the past year, VIA and Intel have been arguing over VIA's use of patented Intel technology in two of its chipsets. Intel dominates the market for chipsets, a key component of all PC motherboards. The two companies signed a technology licensing agreement at the end of last year, but within months, Intel claimed, in a letter to motherboard makers, that VIA was violating the terms of that agreement. In July, Intel filed suit against VIA in the US. That case is still unresolved A former senior employee of VIA Technologies, who did not wish to be named, described Intel's legal tactics as "harassment". Intel would not comment on the case yesterday. Staff in FIC's marketing department seemed bemused by the unexpected action. The US company had not contacted FIC about the suit, marketing specialist Annie Tsai said. Instead, FIC had learned of the action from an Internet news site. Other Taiwanese motherboard makers who use the disputed VIA chipsets said they had not been contacted by Intel, and had not heard about the new lawsuit. Acer affiliate, Aopen, makes several thousand motherboards each month with the chips, less than 10 percent of its total output, said marketing manager Tony Yang. In view of Intel's concern, Aopen's promotion of this product has always been low key, but the company would probably continue production, Yang said. "I'm confused by this," said Ted Lee, VIA's sales director, "We deliver our chipset under a license agreement [with Intel]. Before the lawsuit with Intel, we followed the Intel agreement and also paid a royalty to Intel. I believe the chip is already covered by the previous contract…" VIA had also taken the precaution of contracting National Semiconductor to make the disputed chipsets, Lee said. National has a cross-licensing deal with Intel which lets the two US companies use each others' patented technology. Lee described Intel's motivation for its action against FIC and Everex as a "marketing issue." Intel's newest chipset, the 820, had "big problems" relating to its use of a new type of memory, Lee said. He contrasted this with VIA's "successful" introduction and mass production of its latest chipset. "Currently I think Intel's chipset group faces a big challenge because VIA is quite successful in promoting the new generation chipset. So I think it's more a kind of marketing strategy to try to impact our customers. To stop our momentum." Local motherboard maker, Shuttle, which uses the disputed chipset in several thousand motherboards per month might consider withdrawing these products from the market, if initial reports of the lawsuit proved accurate, said assistant vice president, Jonathan Yi. Mr. Lee stressed that VIA saw Intel as a partner, not a competitor, and needed to cooperate with the much larger US company, particularly in the CPU market. VIA is expected to announce a new chipset with integrated 3D graphics on Tuesday, developed in cooperation with graphics chip designer, S3 Inc. The local government agency which reports IT figures is meanwhile reporting that local chipset manufacturers Via, SiS and Acer shipped six million units in October, with the first taking a 50 per cent market share at three million units. The agency also reports that Taiwan's chipset output accounts for 50 per cent of the worldwide market in the same month. ® See also Intel sues FIC, Everex as Via legal action mounts

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.