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Intel is said to pay more than two billion dollars in patent litigation


Even by US standards, the amount is unusually high: the chip manufacturer Intel is supposed to pay 2.2 billion dollars for patent infringements - to a company that has not developed its own technology for a long time.

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Intel logo on a sticker

Photo: Ralf Hirschberger / dpa

In a patent dispute, a jury in the US state of Texas has sentenced chip manufacturer Intel to pay nearly 2.2 billion dollars.

The proceedings concerned two patents for technologies from semiconductor production, which Intel has infringed, according to Tuesday's ruling.

From court documents (PDF) it emerges that the company VLSI, which had sued Intel, was awarded 1.5 billion dollars (1.24 billion euros) for infringing one of the disputed patents.

For infringements of the second patent, the chip company is said to pay the company $ 675 million (558 million euros).

Intel immediately announced that it would appeal.

At the same time, the jury saw no deliberate infringement of the two patents, which could have tripled the amounts.

"Patent Troll" business model

It is not uncommon for US district courts to set large amounts for patent infringement.

Often, however, the sums are reduced in appeal proceedings - or the disputed patents are later declared invalid.

Intel had already argued in the trial that one of the patents was invalid, but could not convince the jury of it.

With a total of around 2.2 billion dollars, it is one of the highest amounts awarded in US patent proceedings.

The patents before the Texas court have gone through several changes of ownership.

One was granted in 2010 to the Sigmatel company, which was later bought by the chip company Freescale.

Freescale, in turn, where the second technology was patented in 2012, went to semiconductor developer NXP in 2015.

Both patents ended up with VLSI.

The company is a pioneer of semiconductor technology founded in the 1970s and has undergone several changes of ownership.

According to the technology portal "The Verge", VLSI has been passed on from one company to another since 1999.

Most recently, the investment company Fortress, which belongs to the Japanese technology group Softbank, collected various patents under the name of the company.

Large technology companies, especially in the USA, often see themselves targeted by so-called “patent trolls”, whom they accuse of trying to squeeze out money with purchased property rights.

The industry criticizes this as a hurdle for innovation and calls for legal changes.

VLSI had "pulled two patents off the shelf that have not been used for ten years and said:› We'd like two billion dollars, ‹", Intel attorney Wiliam Lee said indignantly in front of the jury.

Compared to the financial service Bloomberg, the chip company emphasized that they did not agree with the jury's decision and that they were confident of being able to prevail in the appeal process.

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mak / dpa

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-03-03

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