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Appeal judge bats back Intel-Intergraph patent case

Lower court must rethink the case

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The US Court of Appeals this week sent Intel's appeal against Intergraph back to the lower court and told it to revise its decision.

Intel launched its appeal in October 2002 after the District Court ruled that it had infringed Intergraph's intellectual property rights. The appeals court rejected the lower court's ruling on two patents, but upheld judgements which stated that Intel had infringed other patents.

The intellectual property in question centres on Intergraph's Parallel Instruction Computing (PIC) patents, which the company claimed Intel infringed when it developed Itanium's Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) architecture.

Intergraph sued Intel separately for alleged infringement of its so-called Clipper patents, which it claimed were violated by Intel's 32-bit Pentium processor family. Intel and Intergraph settled that case in April 2002, with Intel paying out $300 million to license the Clipper patents. It also agreed to pay Intergraph $150 million after the PIC ruling, along with the promise of a further $100 million if it lost the appeal.

Under the terms of the settlement, Intergraph gets to keep that $150 million, but the $100 million is in doubt. The Appeal Court's ruling can be viewed as a victory for Intel and as a win for Intergraph. It also further delays the point at which the two companies can draw a line under the case. ®

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