-- Intel has been hit with a $US500 million patent infringement lawsuit by a US intellectual property firm, TechSearch, over technology used in lntel's Pentium microprocessors.
In its lawsuit filed in late June, TechSearch claims that Intel's Pentium Pro, Pentium II and Pentium MMX microprocessors include patented technology owned by TechSearch, said Anthony Brown, TechSearch's president.
Intel called the charges groundless and pledged to fight the accusation.
"Our early review of the complaint leads us to conclude that the suit does not have merit and we plan to defend ourselves," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.
TechSearch makes its money by buying patented intellectual property developed by other organisations and then licensing the patents for use by third parties, TechSearch's Brown said.
The company acquired the patent in question in January 1998 from chip maker International Meta Systems, which had tried to develop a Pentium-type processor of its own that would compete with Intel's chips, Brown said.
TechSearch offered to license the patented technology to Intel, asking the chip giant to pay a 1 per cent to 3 per cent royalty fee on the sale of each of its Pentium processors, according to Brown. Intel declined the offer, prompting TechSearch to file its lawsuit. Intel also declined a subsequent offer to settle out of court, Brown said.
The lawsuit does not specify the damages sought, but based on royalty calculations Intel would be required to pay "in excess of $US500 million" if TechSearch prevails, Brown said.
Intel is due to respond to the suit by August 20, he added.
The patent in question, number 5,574,927, concerns a technology related to the RISC (reduced instruction set computing) microprocessor architecture. Specifically it covers a "RISC-architecture computer configured for emulation of the instruction set of a target computer," Brown said.
At the time TechSearch acquired the patent from International Meta Systems, TechSearch was aware that Intel may have infringed on the patent, Brown said. But he said the company did not acquire the patent with the intent of suing Intel.