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A jury says Intel owes $2.18 billion for infringing a zombie chip company’s patents

Intel could owe fairly a bit of money to a semiconductor firm that hasn’t existed for 20 years. A Texas jury has requested Intel to pay $2.18 billion for infringing two patents owned by VLSI Expertise, according to Bloomberg.

VLSI seemingly rose from the lifeless in 2019 particularly to sue. The final time it was a firm was in 1999 when Philips purchased the semiconductor design firm for $1 billion, with its belongings later touring to Philips spinoff NXP (which you’ll know from its tap-to-pay NFC chips, amongst different issues). NXP will reportedly get a few of Intel’s cash, too.

One in every of VLSI’s claims to fame was being a part of the unique mission with Apple and Acorn to provide the primary ARM processors — and the ARM company — accountable for the underpinnings of the chips that now seem in each smartphone, most tablets, and a rising variety of laptops and servers.

Technically, the patents are newer than all of that VLSI historical past. They have been initially issued to Freescale Semiconductor, and Sigmatel in 2009, 2010, and 2012, respectively, and the earliest of them was filed in 2005. However Bloomberg stories they have been all assigned to the brand new VLSI in 2019, an LLC that’s hooked up to a Fortress Funding Group.

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Calling out VLSI as a zombie model was a part of Intel’s argument, in accordance with Bloomberg:

VLSI “took two patents off the shelf that hadn’t been used for 10 years and mentioned, ‘We’d like $2 billion,”’ Lee instructed the jury. The “outrageous” demand by VLSI “would tax the true innovators.”

However that didn’t hold jurors from awarding roughly a tenth of Intel’s yearly earnings — $2.18 billion — for infringing two of the three patents. (They’re about “managing clockspeed in an digital machine,” a “minimal reminiscence working voltage approach,” and “voltage-based reminiscence dimension scaling,” in case you’re curious.)

Intel tells The Verge that it’s not completed combating but: “Intel strongly disagrees with at present’s jury verdict. We intend to attraction and are assured that we’ll prevail.”

Fortress and VLSI Expertise produce other lawsuits pending in opposition to Intel, too.

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