A jury says Intel owes $2.18 billion for infringing a zombie chip firm’s patents

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Intel could owe fairly a bit of money to a semiconductor firm that hasn’t existed for 20 years. A Texas jury has requested Intel to pay $2.18 billion for infringing two patents owned by VLSI Technology, in accordance with Bloomberg.

VLSI seemingly rose from the lifeless in 2019 particularly to sue. The final time it was an impartial firm was in 1999, when Philips bought the semiconductor design agency for $1 billion. Its property later traveled to Philips spinoff NXP (which you will know from its tap-to-pay NFC chips, amongst different issues). NXP will reportedly get a few of Intel’s cash, too.

One of VLSI’s claims to fame was being a part of the unique challenge with Apple and Acorn to supply the primary ARM processors — and the ARM firm — chargeable for the underpinnings of the chips that now seem in each smartphone, most tablets, and a rising variety of laptops and servers.

Technically, the patents are newer than all of that VLSI historical past. They have been initially issued to Freescale Semiconductor, and Sigmatel in 2009, 2010, and 2012, respectively, and the earliest of them was filed in 2005. But Bloomberg stories they have been all assigned to the brand new VLSI in 2019, an LLC that’s hooked up to a Fortress Investment Group.

Calling out VLSI as a zombie model was a part of Intel’s argument, in accordance with Bloomberg:

VLSI “took two patents off the shelf that hadn’t been used for 10 years and said, ‘We’d like $2 billion,”’ Lee instructed the jury. The “outrageous” demand by VLSI “would tax the true innovators.”

But that didn’t hold jurors from awarding roughly a tenth of Intel’s yearly income — $2.18 billion — for infringing two of the three patents. (They’re about “managing clockspeed in an electronic device,” a “minimum memory operating voltage technique,” and “voltage-based memory size scaling,” in case you’re curious.)

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Intel tells The Verge that it’s not accomplished preventing but: “Intel strongly disagrees with today’s jury verdict. We intend to appeal and are confident that we will prevail.”

Fortress and VLSI Technology produce other lawsuits pending towards Intel, too.