Chip Designer Sues Intel All Computers seeks $500 million in damages for patent-infringement charges. Tom Krazit, IDG News Service Thursday, May 20, 2004 All Computers has filed a patent lawsuit against Intel, claiming that Intel's Pentium II processor infringes on a circuit design patented by All Computers. Advertisement The lawsuit seeks over $500 million in damages as well as a permanent injunction against Intel, says Ed O'Connor, a lawyer with Levin & O'Connor in Laguna Beach, California, representing All Computers. According to a copy of the complaint filed Thursday, Intel's Pentium microprocessors infringe on a patent for circuitry that controls the frequency of signals heading to microprocessors through a chip set. Technical Charges The system clock in a chip set runs at a slower speed than the processor core clock, which is up to 3.4 GHz in some of Intel's chips, says Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of Microprocessor Report. A phase lock loop is responsible for synchronizing the system clock and the core clock so the chip set works properly, Krewell says. In the past, the phase lock loop could work only with core clocks that were whole multiples of the system clock. However, All Computers founder Mers Kutt developed a circuit design that allowed chip designers to run core clocks at fractional multiples of the system clock, O'Connor says. Intel used Kutt's circuitry in the Pentium II processor without a license, according to O'Connor. All Computers only recently realized that Intel had used the technology, he adds. The Pentium II has not been Intel's primary desktop microprocessor for several years. All Computers believes the Pentium III processor also infringes on its patent, but it is not completely sure, O'Connor says. The company has yet to determine if the Pentium 4, Intel's current desktop processor, infringes on the patent, he adds. Intel lawyers had not seen the lawsuit as of Thursday morning, and were unable to comment on the lawsuit, according to Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesperson. All Computers has not released a product for about ten years, O'Connor says. The company sold a product called the All Chargecard in the 1980s that added memory to IBM PCs. On the Fast Track All Computers filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, which is known as a "rocket docket" to lawyers and legal observers, says Scott Marrs, an intellectual-property lawyer with Beirne, Maynard & Parsons in Houston. "Rocket dockets" are known for their expedient processing of legal claims, Marrs says. The merits of this case probably won't be fully clear until the judge conducts a Markman hearing, or a reading of the patent and a definition of the terms within that patent as they apply to the products in this case, he says. The parties in the lawsuit can expect to reach the Markman hearing in about six months in a "rocket docket," he says. Intel has been involved in numerous patent lawsuits over the last few years. It recently settled outstanding litigation with Intergraph over patents related to the Itanium processor as well as to Intergraph's Clipper memory management technology. Last year it settled several patent claims with Via Technologies over chip set designs.