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Intel to appeal $150m Itanium patent ruling

Intergraph wins latest round

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Intel Corp is to appeal a judge's ruling yesterday that its Itanium processors infringe on patents owned by Intergraph Corp, risking an additional $100m payout on top of the $150m it has already agreed to pay Intergraph,

Kevin Murphy writes

Texas District Court Judge John Ward ruled that two Intergraph US patents are "valid and enforceable" and that Intel's products "literally infringe" upon them, Integraph said. Judge Ward also said Intergraph is entitled to an injunction on the Itanium and Itanium 2.

"We respectfully disagree with the ruling and will file a motion for reconsideration," Intel spokesperson Chuck Molloy said. The motion gives the judge ten days to change his ruling before it becomes official. "Then we will file an appeal," Molloy added.

Intergraph and Intel have been involved in patent infringement lawsuits since 1997. In April this year, Intel agreed to pay Intergraph $300m damages to settle a separate infringement suit in Alabama that centered on Pentium processors.

At that time, the companies agreed to cap the damages in the Itanium case. Intel said it would pay $150m if it lost in the first instance, which it has, and a $100m license fee if it loses on appeal. It could have also decided not to appeal and to voluntarily pay the $100m license fee or develop a workaround. If Intel wins on appeal, it pays nothing.

Integraph has agreed to waive its right to ask for an injunction during the appeals process, Intel's Malloy said, so there is no chance of Itanium shipments being halted. It is not clear if Intel could attempt to work around the disputed technology to avoid infringement.

But the court win could also be a boost for Intergraph's attempts to license the patents to companies not party to the lawsuits. The company said it recently license the same technology to Fujitsu Ltd for use in consumer electronics.

Intergraph general counsel David Vance Lucas said: "We hope that the momentum from this decision, together with the recent announcement of our license to Fujitsu, will significantly advance our goal of establishing an open licensing program for Integraph's technology."

The patents in question this time around cover "parallel instruction computing", which, as the name suggests, allow multiple processor operations to occur simultaneously, in parallel, increasing performance. Intergraph claims that PIC is fundamental to Intel's IA-64 architecture, which uses EPIC (for explicitly parallel instruction computing).

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