Intel Stung By $948m Verdict In VLSI Patent Trial

Intel suffers legal setback in court battle against a LLC firm, which is suing the chip giant for infringing patents it has acquired.

Reuters reported that a federal jury in Texas on Tuesday said Intel must pay VLSI Technology LLC $948.8 million for infringing a VLSI patent for computer chips.

VLSI is a “patent-holding company” that is owned by investment funds managed by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a SoftBank Group Corp subsidiary.

Intel appeal

VLSI alleged during a six-day trial that Intel’s Cascade Lake and Skylake microprocessors violated its patent covering improvements to data processing.

However an Intel spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying the chip giant “strongly disagrees” with the verdict and plans to appeal.

The Intel spokesperson also said this case is “one example of many that shows the US patent system is in urgent need of reform.”

VLSI’s law firm declined to comment on the verdict, Reuters reported.

It comes after VLSI won a nearly $2.2 billion verdict against Intel in a separate Texas trial over different chip patents in March this year. Intel has also appealed that verdict.

Reuters reported that VLSI lost another related patent trial against Intel the following month.

It seems that VLSI purchased the patent in this latest trial from Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV.

An attorney for VLSI said at trial that Intel’s chips cause “millions and millions of infringements per second.”

The jury awarded the company the full amount of damages it requested.

A lawyer for Mountain View, California-based Intel said during the trial that the company’s engineers developed its innovations independently, and that its modern microprocessors would not work with VLSI’s outdated technology.

Two other patent cases brought by VLSI against Intel are still pending in Northern California and Delaware. A trial in the California case is set to begin in 2024, Reuters said.

Patent trolls

In November 2019 some big names in the tech industry, including IBM, Microsoft, and the Linux Foundation, joined forces with the Open Invention Network (OIN) to battle patent trolls.

Other members includes Google, Sony, and NEC.

OIN is described as the largest patent non-aggression community in history, whose remit is to take on ‘Patent Assertion Entities’ (PAE), otherwise known as patent trolls.

It is not uncommon for tech firms to band together to fight patent trolls.

In 2014, Google, SAP, Canon, Dropbox, US retailer Newegg and productivity start-up Asana established a patent licensing network to protect them against patent privateering.

And in 2015 Google began giving give small companies a couple of starter patents to help protect its own intellectual property (IP) and assist the establishment of a new business.

In return for the patents, the firms signed up for LOT Network membership to tackle the patent trolls.

LOT Network is another preventative cure for the patent assertion entity (PAE) problem.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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