VIA beats off Intel legal attack

But not in the P4X266 suit...

Intel has failed in one of its other legal attempts to bring to book chipset maker VIA for allegedly ripping off its intellectual property, its arguments damned by the trial judge as "confused".

Last week, Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for Northern California threw out Intel's claim that VIA had infringed its rights by implementing AGP Fast Write mode.

Intel maintained that Fast Write was an extension of its AGP specification, and that VIA's support for it went beyond its licence to use the basic standard.

Rubbish, countered VIA. Fast Write support is an essential part of the AGP standard, it said, so if we have the right to do AGP, we have the right to support AGP Fast Write mode.

Judge Alsup agreed. "Intel argues that Fast Write is a 'protocol,' not a specification," he wrote, explaining his decision. "A protocol, however, can also be a specification. At oral argument, Intel's attorney at first even agreed that the AGP 2.0 specification contained a 'specification' for Fast Write. At the end of the oral argument, however, he rescinded his agreement. Although the court would not bind counsel to his admission, the exchange illustrates the confusion in Intel's position."

The Judge said it was clear that others could become confused by Intel's stance too. "Under Intel's reading of the licence, it would be impossible for any engineer or business to understand what was (or was not) licensed," he wrote.

This case, begun last year, says nothing, of course, about VIA's battle with Intel over its use of the Pentium 4 bus. The outcome of both companies' actions is unclear, though one thing is certain: that motherboard makers and PC vendors want the argument settled sooner rather than later. It's in no one's interest, they say, for the P4X266 fight to continue as long as the AGP Fast Write spat has. ®

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