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Court rules for Intergraph in Intel patent dispute

Wants royalties, damages etc. etc.

Intergraph has actually won a court ruling in its long-festering patent dispute with Intel.

Today, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuits ruled that Intel had no rights to use Clipper Technology patented by Intergraph. Intel's argument that use was protected by cross-licensing agreements were described as "strained".

In a press statement, James Taylor,Intergraph CEO, said: "We are energised by the unanimous decision of the Appeals Court that Intel has no cross license defence."

The company is now to pursue royalties on Intel Pentium products and by the look of it hefty damages as well.

There's a lot of bad blood between the two companies - so far as Intergraph is concerned, at least. In September 1999, it quit the PC and generic server business, accusing Intel of inflicting "irreparable harm" to these operations.

The company claims that "after several years of mutually beneficial work, in 1996 Intel began making unreasonable demands for royalty-free rights to Intergraph patents already being used in Intel microprocessors. When Intergraph refused, Intel abused its monopoly power by engaging in a series of illegal coercive actions intended to force Intergraph to give Intel access to the patents."

Intergraph filed suit against Intel in November 1997. The lawsuit "asserts claims against Intel in three areas: illegal coercive behavior, patent infringement, and antitrust violations.

Here comes the Judge

However, the company has had a series of setbacks, until today. In October 1999, Judge Edwin Nelson of the Federal Court in Alabama ruled that Intel did have rights to use Intergraph technology through a cross-licensing deal signed with Fairchild in 1997. As if that wasn't galling enough Nelson had ruled a few months earlier that Intel had infringed Intergraph patents. Of course, it's a judge's prerogative to change his mind, but...

In March 2000, Intergraph's anti-trust suit against Intel was thrown out of court. In March, 2001 (on Monday 5th), the company's appeal is due to be heard.

Intergraph acquired the Clipper patents through the 1987 acquisition of Fairchild Semiconductor's advanced processor division. It claims that Intel Pentium use technology secured by five Intel payments.

You can read Intergraph's side of the story (at some length) here. ®

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