Intel resorted to the law courts last Friday in a bid to head-off competition from clone chip manufacturers AMD and Cyrix.
The company filed a suit against both of the companies in a Delaware court for infringement of what it claims is its MMX trademark. According to sources at Cyrix on Friday, that led AMD to remove a large poster at its Cebit stand advertising MMX technology in its future K6 chip to be launched in early April.
According to a statement from Intel, AMD and Cyrix "have designed and begun implementing strategies to improperly leverage Intel?s enormous investment in the MMX trademark." That, the suit alleged, meant "confusion in the minds of consumers as they make buying decisions".
Intel wants unspecified damages and "preliminary and permanent injunctive relief", along with legal fees.
Although Cyrix made no immediate reply to the litigation, AMD issued a statement describing Intel?s suit as without merit. "It poses no threat to delay shipments of the forthcoming AMD-K6 processor," said Thomas McCoy, general counsel for AMD.
He said that Intel?s claim of trademark rights to MMX was the issue in the litigation. AMD?s stance is that MMX is a generic acronym for multimedia extensions. "We believe the term MMX belongs to the public domain, and we expect to prevail when the matter goes to trial," said McCoy.
McCoy hit out at Intel for timing litigation to spoil its own launch. "This case is really about advertising and marketing, which no doubt explains the timing of Intel's lawsuit, right before AMD's scheduled product launch," said McCoy. "There is no dispute about product intellectual property or technology rights."
It is not the first time Intel has threatened competitors AMD and Cyrix over trademark issues. Two years ago, AMD successfully prevented Intel from its claim that the initial "P" was its copyright. Cyrix has also won cases against Intel in the past.
On the first day of Cebit, several manufacturers demoing Klamath-Pentium II processors indicated that they were viewing AMD?s architecture as a viable alternative to Intel?s daughterboard.
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