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Intel loses Itanium patent infringement case

Appeal or cough up? No prizes for guessing...

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The "sword of Damocles" hangs over Itanic after a US judge yesterday passed an order - which he suspended immediately - preventing Intel from making or selling its most powerful line of server processors.

The injunction, suspended until November 29, will only come into effect if Intel fails to reverse the decision. The company has 30 days to lodge an appeal, which it intends to pursue.

In his final judgement, Judge T John Ward of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas reaffirmed his earlier findings (made on October 10) that two patents held by Intergraph were valid and that Intel infringed them. Intel's Itanium chips infringed Intergraph's patents relating to Parallel Instruction Computing on nine separate points, he ruled.

AsIntel has already squared a deal with Integraph, the case really comes down to how much money Intel might have to pay Intergraph.

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 centred 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. ®

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