Intel's legal spat with Via technologies took another twist last week when the chip giant filed suits against selected Via partners and distributors.
UK components distributor KMS acknowledged that it has received a writ from Intel. First International Computer of Taiwan and US affiliate Everex also fell foul of the vendor.
The suits allege these companies are using or shipping Via products that infringe Intel patents, over which Intel is currently suing Via.
In a statement, KMS said: "The nature of Intel's claim is described as 'patent infringements'. The exact details of these alleged infringements cannot be discussed at present, but the defendants and their lawyers are looking closely at the patent involved and Intel's allegations. KMS intends to respond to Intel within the 14-day limit that is specified."
It added: "KMS would like to take this opportunity to stress that the situation will not affect product deliveries in any way, and is sure that business will carry on normally. We will still continue to offer our full product range."
Surprisingly, KMS is a distributor for Intel as well as FIC, the firm whose products contain the disputed Via technology. Other users of both technologies, such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and Micron, have not received writs so far.
The lawsuit stems from an deal signed last year in which Via licensed P6 bus architecture from Intel. Via then tried to obtain the licence to build Celeron and Pentium III compatible chipsets, but a dispute soon arose.
Relations between the two parties were further damaged when Via released a PC133 memory compatible chipset months before Intel, an apparent violation of the licensing agreement.
The lawsuit with Via is still not resolved but will have a major impact on the results of the fresh lawsuits once it is concluded.
In the meantime, Via has set up a joint venture with S3, a graphics chip designer. S3-Via Inc will produce chips and chipsets based on the combined technologies of the two companies.
But the venture may come under threat from Intel as its first product, the Savage 4NB, contains the same technology that sparked the legal battle between Via and Intel.
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