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Transmeta Sues Intel for Patent Infringement 161

Cr0w T. Trollbot writes "Today Transmeta filed suit against Intel for patent infringement. From the article: 'The suit [...] alleges that Intel infringed upon ten of Transmeta's patents. The patents cover computer architecture and power efficiency technologies.' Transmeta offered a low-power x86 processor until last year which used Transmeta's vaunted 'code morphing' software."
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Transmeta Sues Intel for Patent Infringement

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  • Sigh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:29PM (#16401591)
    Is anyone else getting a little sick of these patent infringment stories? Its now common knowledge that you can't build anything in the United States without some IP leech suing you, so is this really even a big deal anymore? We all know the eventual result of this: either more products will be invented in other countries or the only things that will be made in the U.S. anymore will be by companies that have a large legal budget, which I'm sure Intel does. Stories like this will become small insignificant news.
  • by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:32PM (#16401637)
    ...but now, they just seem like patent trolls.

    FTA: "The complaint charges that Intel has infringed and is infringing Transmeta's patents by making and selling a variety of microprocessor products, including at least Intel's Pentium III, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core and Core 2 product lines."

    They sure are going back a long ways...

    FTA: "Last year, Transmeta laid off 67 employees in a restructuring plan aimed to focus more heavily on IP and the phase out its less profitable processors."

    So they went out of the business of actually making anything (presumably because their products were not competitive in the market place), so NOW they turn to their IP to make any money. I really don't know if they've got a valid case or not, but they certainly seem to be trolling.

  • by imboboage0 ( 876812 ) <> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:36PM (#16401709) Homepage
    Pentium III? IANAL, but isn't this defined as failing to defend your patent in the first place?
  • Re:They still exist? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:43PM (#16401791) Journal
    It's kind of ironic that the company vaunted and praised so vigorously for employing Linus now appears to have become a 'Patent portfolio operation.'
  • I wonder ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guysmilee ( 720583 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:46PM (#16401829)
    As a developer when i see a company do this ... I seriously quetion if I can refuse to participate in my companies work in pursuing patents for my work ... b/c if the company was to ever collapse (not being a business person) I could be crippling my own future at other employers ... imagine switching jobs and being your new company being sued by a "defunct" company you used to work for ...
  • by From A Far Away Land ( 930780 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:51PM (#16401897) Homepage Journal
    It's too clever a saying for me to have been the first to have thought of it, so I probably just heard it before.

    Those who can, do. Those who can't, sue.
  • by Vengeance ( 46019 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:52PM (#16401901)
    Transmeta has a rather extensive patent portfolio, with many new ones granted this year.

    In addition, they've got a fair number of engineers working at both Sony and Microsoft, and an Efficeon CPU (with AMD branding) is the only certified processor for the FlexGo program.

    The history is that Transmeta has brought out some innovative low-power CPUs, but never seemed to gain any market traction at all.

    Yes, I think this case might just well have real merit.
  • Intel = Deep Pockets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @07:52PM (#16401907) Homepage
    Guess Transmeta is going after the biggest guy with the deepest pockets . . . seems a little hard to believe that AMD wouldn't be doing something similar to what Intel is doing (that Transmeta claims in infringing).

    If Transmeta scores a win against Intel, then maybe that could lead to licensing agreements with others that may be afraid that they would also lose in litigation. In the meantime, this is one time where AMD may be thankful that they don't have the largest marketshare and the deepest pockets in the CPU industry.

  • Then surely you don't remember very well. Before AMD and now Intel started pushing low-power CPUs, Transmeta was there with the concept. Transmeta was at the forefront of Intel-compatible low-power CPUs with dynamic power profiles dependant on usage.

    It was well vaunted at their launch that a laptop running a DVD wouldn't last as long on battery as if it were doing word processing.

    The fact they didn't catch on isn't relevant to what they contributed to the industry itself.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:09PM (#16402091) Journal
    Focussing on IP is not necessarily a bad thing for a semiconductor company. ARM did it in the '90s. Building fabs is expensive. There is a huge market for cores that can be modified slightly and then fab'd as ASICs. A lot of mobile 'phones have an ARM9 core, for example. This is a design licensed from ARM, modified by someone else (e.g. TI, who add DSPs and some other things to the die) and then fab'd. It's cheaper to buy a general-purpose core from ARM than to design your own, especially since you can then guarantee it is ARM-compatible (and hence has compilers available for it).

    I don't know how long this business model will survive things like OpenCores - it's even cheaper to download the HDL for a chip for free than buy it - but they may well be successful for a while.

  • Um, hello? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tehSpork ( 1000190 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:20PM (#16402193)
    Intel should just purchase Transmeta outright, between their engineering crew and patents it would be a smart move.

    Deffo would make more sense to me than the rumored purchase of nVidia. :)
  • Re:Hail Mary Play (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:41PM (#16402419) Homepage Journal
    And Intel will win, if not in the courts, then because it has probably 1000 times the money available to prosecute the case.

    See the NTP/RIM case -- Transmeta can get a sympathetic judge to grant an injunction while they intentionally drag out the case, possibly forcing the prospect of Intel having to stop all processor sales until the case is settled. Intel will of course cave and just buy the "patents" to eliminate this business risk.

    And that is why it's pretty much the opposite of your contention in some cases -- it isn't how much you have to use to fight, but how much you have to lose even if you might eventually win.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:24PM (#16402795)
    I believe that was originally by Mark Twain.
  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <.moc.sragicsm. .ta. .keeg.> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:48PM (#16403531) Homepage

    Woody Allen.

    Those who can, do.
    Those who can't, teach.
    Those who can't teach, teach gym.
  • Re:Um, hello? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cpm80 ( 899906 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @04:15AM (#16405255) Homepage
    It sounds like a good idea on the surface, but not if you know *anything* about the stock market. I'm not a guru, but know enough to explain why Intel cannot afford Transmeta. When an entity acquires a certain percentage, somewhere arround 10%, of a public company they must file with the SEC. This usually causes the share price of the takeover target to increase significantly. Also, Transmeta has what's called a poison pill which in the event of a hostile take over attempt causes them to issues more shares. The net effect of the number of outstanding shares increasing at the same time the price of each share increases is that acquiring 51% of the shares becomes orders of magnitude more expensive than the current market cap of Transmeta. Given these conditions Intel cannot afford to buy Transmeta, unless of course Transmeta's board of directors agrees to sell the company to Intel.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN