Intel, in a tit-for-tat action, has counter-sued Digital for allegedly breaching 14 of its patents.
The PC chip maker has charged Digital with infringing patents covering critical technologies ranging from microprocessor architecture and design, through to video encoding/decoding.
The move comes three months after Digital accused Intel of infringing 10 patents relating to its Alpha microprocessors. Given the time lag, some industry experts believe Intel is wanting to seek an out of court settlement with Digital.
"They (Intel) are hedging their bets," said Joe D'elia, senior analyst at Dataquest. "It's perfectly reasonable to expect people to unwittingly break patents. Intel will be looking to find infringements that it can bargain with - preferably out of court."
While D'elia believes the companies will resolve their dispute amicably, he recognises Intel's power, particularly in the court room. "Digital got the ball rolling, but now the sleeping Intel is awake, I think Digital will wish it never started this," he said.
An Intel spokesman said: "We have registered some 15,000 patents. I can safely say we will vigorously pursue this case." The spokesman declined to comment on why Intel had waited three months before filing the counter claims against Digital.
- Exponential Technology, a defunct Silicon Valley microprocessor company, is putting several of its patents up for auction. The patents are thought to include technologies that could aid the development of next-generation microprocessors including Merced, the Hewlett-Packard/Intel joint venture.
Digital is expected to bid for the patents along with AMD, Intel and Cyrix.
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