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Philips sues World+dog

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The intellectual property subsidiary of Philips has accused six US semiconductor outfits of patent infringement and inducing others to infringe its patents.

Analog Devices, Cirrus Logic, Cypress Semiconductor, Fairchild Semiconductor, Linear Technology and Standard Microsystems are the guys in the black hats, according to a lawsuit filed by Philips in New York.

Philips is seeking damages estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars over a Patent covering the Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) Bus, used to connect chips in TVs, audio equipment, phones and other consumer electronics equipment.

Philips licenses use of the patent to more than 50 other companies, saying the I2C bus has become a defacto standard.

The company says the defendants refused to sign up for a licensing programme and that talks with the companies had broken down.

"It’s a real surprise," says Cypress’ lawyer Andrew Fortney, according to Electronic News. "We’re aware of the lawsuit. We’re still studying everything that’s involved in it. We’re somewhat disappointed with Philips’ decision.

"About three years ago, Philips approached Cypress. We could pay 2 or 3 per cent royalties or we could sell to customers who had already licensed the patent from Philips. We chose the latter."

The company heard no more until this summer, at which point it invited Philips to enter discussions. Fortney claims that Philips refused to talk, but instead responded with the lawsuit.

A trial date has not been set. ®

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