Judge Lets Texas Instruments Intervene in Intel-Chips Suit
DALLAS (AP) _ A federal judge ruled Monday that Texas Instruments Inc. could intervene in the patent infringement lawsuit Intel Corp. filed last week against Chips & Technologies Inc.
The decision makes the case the first intellectual property dispute between Texas Instruments and Intel, both of which have reputations for aggressive protection of their sizable patent portfolios.
″I was kind of surprised, with all the protection of intellectual property they’ve been involved in, that they would get on the side of an infringer,″ said Tom Dunlap, general counsel for Intel.
U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, Calif., said he would appoint a ″special master″ to weigh the technical issues in the case and recommend how to proceed within 60 days.
In the lawsuit, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel accused Chips of stealing technology to make a replica of its popular 386 microprocessor, the brain of many personal computers. Intel asked Ware to prevent Chips from transferring 386 technology to other companies.
Chips, based in San Jose, contends it designed its chips from scratch and took ″extraordinary precautions″ to avoid Intel’s technology because of the company’s record of filing patent suits.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments has a deal under which it manufactures microprocessors for Chips and sought to intervene to protect its rights.
When the suit was announced last week, Texas Instruments said it saw no conflict between its manufacturing agreement with Chips and its broad patent cross-licenses with Intel. The company still maintains that view, spokesman Ted Jernigan said Monday.
″What we’re trying to do is seek a confirmation and understanding of what our rights are related to this,″ he said.
Texas Instruments has been interested in gaining access to microprocessor technology with an eye toward developing advanced chips that combine specific functions, such as networking or graphics.
The Intel-Chips case is the latest high-profile patent dispute in the computer business.
Two weeks ago, another defendant of an Intel patent suit, Advanced Micro Devices, won the right to continue producing its 386 clone.