Manufacturing Industry

Counterpunch: Amx86 buyers get 'legal aid.'

Electronic News, May 24, 1993 by Richard McCausland

NEW YORK--Advanced Micro Devices is offering legal aid to Amx86-based systems manufacturers warned by Intel to take out a costly patent license.

Accusing Intel of devising a "divide and conquer" strategy in its campaign against x86 clone makers, AMD chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders last week said "Because they (Intel) have chosen weak customers who are more inclined to cave in than fight, we have offered to give them counsel to assist them in protecting their rights." Mr. Sanders was responding to Intel's recent petition to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking to bar from the U.S. notebook computers made by Taiwan's Twinhead Inc. that incorporate AMD and Cyrix microprocessors (EN, May 17).

As part of a multi-pronged offensive, AMD last week dispatched Steve Zelencik, senior VP of sales and chief marketing officer, to Taiwan to meet with customers and advise them not to sign the Intel license. In a prepared presentation, Mr. Zelencik told customers AMD will:

* Vigorously present its position to convince the ITC that "Intel's complaint is totally without merit";

* Press its existing lawsuit in California against Intel on these issues "in order to protect its customers";

* Expand its attack on the Crawford patent and seek a court order in Federal Court in California to stop Intel from "making false and threatening statements" to AMD customers.

"Intel's actions show them to be interested only in eliminating all competition in order to raise prices and restrict supply," he said in the presentation, echoing Mr. Sanders, who stressed vigorous AMD support of Taiwan customers and counterattacks at the ITC and the court. "AMD urges its customers not to sign any license agreements with Intel without securing legal advice," Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Sanders told shareholders at last week's annual meeting here: "Relative to patents that they (Intel) claim the customers are infringing when they use a non-Intel microprocessor in a particular memory interface technique--this is called the Crawford patent--our position is that the customer has an implied license to use the Crawford patent when they buy a microprocessor from AMD because we have a patent cross license which covers the Crawford patent. Intel is saying that they don't, is putting pressure on them, and trying to go to the (ITC) to keep product out of the country from customers of AMD--and for that matter, customers of Cyrix--who are not cross-licensees of Intel."

Intel, in its petition, requested a determination as to whether Twinhead's Slimnote systems, incorporating Am386 and Cx486SLC MPUs, infringe the Crawford patent (No. 4,972,338), which covers memory management technology involving the interplay among an x86 MPU, external memory and paging software. Intel is seeking an order preventing Twinhead from importing the Slimnotes into the U.S.

"Intel has spent many millions of dollars developing its technology and we owe it to our shareholders to make sure we are compensated for its use," said Thomas Dunlap, Intel VP and general counsel, in a prepared statement. "Twinhead has been offered a license on the Intel patent claims, but they have not accepted our offer." A license would require a payment of 1 percent of the wholesale price of each system sold.

AMD's presentation to Taiwan customers contended: "ITC investigations, by law, are only supposed to involve claims of foreign infringement. Intel's claim of patent infringement is nothing more than a U.S. domestic dispute between Intel and U.S. semiconductor companies--AMD, Cyrix and Texas Instruments--over patent licenses. Intel has improperly filed its ITC complaint to involve and intimidate innocent Taiwanse manufacturers.

"AMD will ask the ITC not to investigate this improper claim. Intel has purposely filed its ITC Complaint against Twinhead in the hopes that it can intimidate an entire industry in Taiwan into signing License Agreements favoring Intel."

Twinhead, meanwhile, in a prepared statement last week, said it has "been unwittingly and unfairly dragged into the litigation battle between Intel and competing manufacturers of CPUs. Twinhead buys CPUs, and other components, under the manufacturer's assurance that the component is legal for sale and manufacture and does not infringe upon the patent rights of others. This has always been our policy, and it applies equally to the products that have been cited in the complaint.

"Clearly, if Intel patent rights have been infringed, litigation should be directed towards the manufacturer of the offending part, not third party companies like Twinhead who use the product in good faith and for its intended purpose. We regret that Intel has seen fit to involve Twinhead in an action that is beyond our influence or control." Twinhead added it is currently negotiating with all parties involved.

AMD is prepared to push ahead with a suit filed last November in California Superior Court for Santa Clara County charging Intel with interfering with AMD's customer relationships. That suit had not previously been a high legal priority for AMD, according to a company spokesman, because there was no evidence Intel was attempting to enforce its Crawford patent.

 

BNET TalkbackShare your ideas and expertise on this topic

Please add your comment:

  1. You must register or login to add a comment
  2.  

Basic HTML tags that work in comments are: bold (<b></b>), italic (<i></i>), underline (<u></u>), and hyperlink (<a href></a)

advertisement
Go
advertisement
  • Click Here
  • Click Here
advertisement

Content provided in partnership with Thompson Gale