Court rules Intel has no license for Clipper patent

Court rules Intel has no license for Clipper patent

Intergraph Corp. won a round in its legal wrangle with Intel Corp. Federal district Judge Edwin Nelson ruled Intel does not have a valid license to use Intergraph's decade-old Clipper RISC caching circuitry in the Pentium architecture.

The ruling, in response to an Intel motion for summary judgment, eliminated a defense the chip giant had planned to use in a suit for anticompetitive behavior brought by Intergraph of Huntsville, Ala., in 1997.

'We're concerned about the broader implications of summary judgment, and, as a result, we plan to pursue a possible appeal,' Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.

He said the long-term impact is worrisome because of Intel's many cross-licensing agreements.

Here's the bill

If Intergraph wins, Intel might have to pay it royalties on every Pentium ever sold. Intel claimed it had rights to the patented technology through a longstanding National Semiconductor Corp. cross-license.

But Nelson ruled the patents belonged to a part of Fairchild Semiconductor that was sold in 1987 to Intergraph by a previous owner, Schlumberger Ltd.

Intergraph chief executive officer James Meadlock said the ruling means Intel 'does not have a license to use the Clipper patent. It does not say Intel is using the technology.' That will be decided next year, he said.

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