Time for sharp competitive intelligence

A popular Intel computer chip that is at the heart of millions of computers infringes on patented technology invented at UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation claims in a lawsuit against the microprocessor giant.

In the suit filed Wednesday, WARF charges that Intel Corp. ’s popular Core 2 Duo microarchitecture infringes on a patented design that significantly improves the speed and efficiency of computer processing. The technology, patented in 1998, was developed by four UW-Madison researchers, including professor Gurindar Sohi, who is currently chairman of UW-Madison ’s computer science department.

Patent title: Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer
Patent number: US5781752
Filing date: Dec 26, 1996
Issue date: Jul 14, 1998
Inventors: Andreas I. Moshovos, Scott E. Breach, Terani N. Vijaykumar, Gurindar S. Sohi
Assignee: Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

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Computer industry analyst Tom Starns of Objective Analysis, a semiconductor market research firm, said the success of the lawsuit would depend upon WARF ’s ability to prove Intel used UW-Madison ’s circuit design in its product and did not come up with its own method of reaching the same result. He said that could be hard to prove.

Parallel processors such as Intel ’s allow a computer to work faster without the processor overheating, which is a limitation of prior technology.

The suit states that Intel refused attempts to license the technology.

Intel launched the Core 2 Duo microprocessors last summer. They deliver as much as 40 percent better performance while consuming as much as 40 percent fewer watts than previous models.

The suit asks for a judgment finding Intel infringed on the patent and ordering it to stop using the technology. It seeks triple damages for willful patent infringement, among other costs.

WARF is a nonprofit corporation that manages patents for UW-Madison and uses proceeds from those patents to fund research at the university.

In recent years WARF has filed nearly a dozen patent infringement lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Madison against industry giants such as IBM, Sony and Samsung. In most cases, WARF has reached out of court settlements.

Intel settled a similar case last year after trading accusations of patent infringement with Transmeta Corp. on products including Core and Pentium processors. In October, Intel agreed to pay $250 million over five years to Transmeta, also based in Santa Clara, in exchange for the right to use patented Transmeta technologies in its chips for 10 years.

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