Patriot Scientific, the technology company sueing Intel and others for alleged patent infringement, has told more than 150 other firms that it will sue them too - unless if they come to a suitable arrangement with it.
Patriot's action takes in many of the biggest names in the Wintel PC world. In addition to Intel, the company has already begun legal proceedings against Japanese vendors Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba, NEC and Matsushita. Those suits were filed in January.
The company bases its infringement claim on the ownership of US patent 5,809,336, entitled 'High performance microprocessor having variable speed system clock'. This covers "the means used by the microprocessor industry to increase the internal operating speed of modern microprocessors".
The patent was filed in June 1995 and granted on 15 September 1998. Patriot wants damages "in excess of several hundred million dollars" from the five Japanese PC makers for their alleged infringement.
In response to that action, Intel sued Patriot in a bid to have the court declare that its products do not infringe patent 5,809,336 and that, by extension, neither do those of its customers. The chip giant also wants Patriot to be barred from sueing more of its customers, which is of course exactly what Patriot has now done - or at least is threatening to do. Jeff Wallin, Patriot's President and CEO, said at the time that any microprocessor "operating at speeds above 110-120MHz may be in violation of portions of our patent portfolio".
In February this year, Patriot countersued Intel, claiming that the Pentium family does indeed violate 5,809,336.
Patriot is seeking a jury trial, unspecified damages for "willful, intentional infringement" and an injunction against further infringement.
Last month, Intel was also sued for allegedly infringing microprocessor patents held by MicroUnity Systems Engineering. MSE claims that Intel's SSE and HyperThreading technologies are both detailed in its patent portfolio. The company also named Dell as a second alleged violator, indicating it too may pursue Intel customers as Patriot has done.
Ironically, Intel has only just managed to shrug off Intergraph and that company's various allegations of patent infringement. The long-running case concluded last month, when Intel agreed to pay out $225m to end the fight. ®