Big companies may not have the issues us poor consumers face but when they do experience problems, they’re large. Intel, maker of computer processors and other technology that we can’t quite bring to mind right now, has been slammed with a $2.18 billion judgement in a patent case in Waco, Texas.
That’s billion, with a ‘b’. The case is between Intel and a seemingly resurrected-for-legal-reasons outfit called VLSI Technology LLC, which forms part of a Dutch company called NXP Semiconductors. NXP used to be part of Philips, but was spun off in 2006.
Need better Intel for this
The patents in question involve a) handling power consumption in a processor by varying voltage inside the chip (higher for faster, lower for slower, etc, etc) and b) storing voltage information in non-volatile memory to ensure that a memory chip always maintains a minimum voltage. They were previously owned by companies Freescale Semiconductor and SigmaTel before being purchased by NXP Semiconductors.
There are a couple of other patents involved in the Intel case but they’re similarly arcane descriptions of how processors work. Intel argued that it didn’t infringe on these patents at all, claiming that it developed its own methods to accomplish these functions. A Texas jury didn’t believe those claims, which is where the $2 billion judgement comes in. While VLSI Technology LLC won the case, parent company NXP is set to be receiving a portion of the funds
The American chip-maker will, of course, be appealing this judgement in any way they can. In the event they can’t get out of this sum, it’ll prove to be one of the largest patent judgements ever awarded in the US.