Pre-empting a US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into alleged monopolistic practices, Intel has filed a countersuit against Intergraph, the company that sparked off the action.
Intel filed its response to Intergraph's suit in an Alabama court and at the same time claimed the workstation maker had infringed seven of its own patents. The company also claimed that it had a long standing cross-licensing deal with Intergraph ,which meant the case against Intel was null and void and asked for a summary judgement in its favour.
According to Intel, its licensing deal with Intergraph goes back to a contract it made in 1976 with National Semiconductor. Natsemi owned Fairchild Semiconductor, which it sold off to Intergraph in 1987, and Intel is arguing that the so-called 'ancestor agreements' then passed to Intergraph.
The motion for summary judgement is a US legal move intended to pre-empt a trial, but the countersuit by Intel over the patents is a new twist in the legal saga.
Many semiconductor companies have a series of interlinked cross licences and disentangling them is a lengthy process. Intel has engaged in many such legal actions in the past, notably a case with AMD over x.86 technology, which took a total of six years to resolve.
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