Intel settles FIC patent suit

Firms make up and be friendly

Intel and Taiwanese mobo maker First International Computer have settled their long-running patent clash, the two companies tersely announced yesterday.

No settlement terms were revealed - the joint press statement simply said the pair had resolved their dispute, settled up their remaining differences and entered into a licensing agreement "covering certain patents".

Licensing agreements are almost always the result of patent infringement cases that run so long that it eventually dawns on both parties that the only winners will be the lawyers.

The action began back in October 1999, when Chipzilla's legal lizards sued FIC over its use of VIA chipsets which, the chip giant claimed, infringed its patents. FIC quickly responded, essentially telling its accuser to eff off and come back when its parallel case with VIA was settled in its favour. Until then, said FIC, we'll continue to make VIA-based mobos.

The case against VIA has been running even longer. Intel's beef centred on VIA's development of a Pentium chipset that supported 133MHz SDRAM before it released a 133MHz frontside bus chipset of its own. Using SDRAM instead of Rambus RDRAM was also said to be a sticking point.

The case initially saw the two companies settle, in late 1998, but Intel soon claimed VIA had broken the terms of their agreement, and the fight continued, with Intel launching a patent infringement action in June 1999. VIA ultimately partnered with Intel's former favourite graphics chip developer, S3, in order to get S3's rights to the technology Chipzilla claimed it was using unlawfully. ®

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