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Intel breathes $2bn sigh of relief over patent trial

Jury finds that chip giant did not infringe on AVM patent

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

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Intel is breathing two billion dollars lighter Thursday, after a jury in Delaware decided that the chip giant had not infringed on a dynamic logic circuit patent.

AVM Technologies, which holds US patent 5,859,547, first sued Intel back in 2010 claiming that the Intel Pentium 4 and Core 2 designs infringed its intellectual property – but it was dismissed for insufficient evidence.

In January 2015, AVM refiled [PDF], claiming that Intel was continuing to infringe the patent in its Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell designs.

Earlier this month, a six-day jury trial considered the years of arguments and hundreds of submissions and ultimately reached the same conclusion as the earlier case: there was insufficient evidence.

The co-inventor of the patent, Joseph Tran, is president of AVM. His earlier company, Translogic, had licensed a number of its patents to Intel, but not the '547 patent. When, in 2006, he came across an article that described technology very similar to his patent, he contacted Intel and had a number of licensing discussions with executives.

In the end, the chip giant refused to license it because it said Tran was not able to show which Intel product specifically infringed the patent. Tran claims he did not have the money to afford the "extremely expensive infringement analyses demanded by Intel."

Things were looking good for AVM and Tran just two months ago, when the judge refused Intel's motion to dismiss the entire case for being overly broad: that broadness being a key component in the massive $2bn estimate for damages if found guilty. The jury dismissed Intel no fewer than eight times when it tried to kill the case piece by piece.

But in the end, it went the other way and after the six-day trial (the transcripts won't be available until August) the jury found [PDF] that Intel had not infringed AVM's patent. ®

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