Intel has filed a suit against AMD and Cyrix, alleging infringement of its MMX trademark on Pentium processors.
According to Intel's suit, AMD and Cyrix have embarked on strategies which "improperly leverage Intel's enormous investment in the MMX trademark" and "could result in confusion in the minds of consumers as they make buying decisions". Intel is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, as well as unspecified damages and fees.
AMD and Cyrix both dismissed the suit, claiming it was without merit and would be thrown out of court. The companies insist MMX is a "generic acronym" and cannot be trademarked.
Brendon Sherry, Cyrix's European marketing manager, said: "We are ready to defend any lawsuit in court. MMX is a universally accepted acronym (for multimedia extensions) and we will defend it vigorously."
But the timing of the suit could prove disastrous for AMD, which plans to release its K6 processor tomorrow. The K6 is MMX-capable and will battle against Intel's Pentium Pro and Pentium II. If the court rules in Intel's favour, AMD may be forced to delay the chip's release or release it without the MMX tag.
The suit could prove more problematic for Cyrix which, unlike AMD, does not have a license to develop an MMX-compatible chip. Instead, Cyrix has developed its own version of the technology which will make its debut in the M2 this summer.
Ian Chen, director of technology roadmap at the Microprocessor Report, believes the row centres on the meaning of the acronym MMX.
"If they (AMD & Cyrix) can prove that Intel employees used the term to describe multimedia extensions, therefore confirming it as a generic term, Intel has a problem," he said.
Chen is perplexed at the motivation behind Intel's suit. "Intel wants to promote MMX, but is attacking companies using the term to promote greater multimedia capability."
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