Intel files four more patent suits against Via

Intel on Wednesday filed four more patent infringement lawsuits against Taipei-based PC chip set and processor vendor Via Technologies.

The move is the latest in the back-and-forth legal action between the companies following last month's launch of Via's P4X266 chip set. The chip set allows Intel's Pentium 4 processor to use faster and cheaper DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM). Intel does not yet have its own chip set enabling use of DDR SDRAM.

Intel claims that the P4X266 chip set violates patents it holds, while Via filed a countersuit claiming that Intel's Pentium 4 processor violates a patent jointly held by Via and a subsidiary. The suits filed Wednesday by Intel again up the ante. The suits claim that both Via's C3 microprocessor and the P4X266 chip set violate eight Intel patents in three countries. These are the first suits in which it is claimed that the C3 violates Intel patents.

In Germany, Intel claims that the chip set infringes on a European patent and a German patent, and names both Via and its German subsidiary, Via Technologies GmbH as defendants, Intel said in a statement.

In one lawsuit filed in the U.K., Intel claims that the same chip set violates both a European patent and a U.K. patent, while a second suit claims that Via's C3 microprocessor infringes on three U.K. patents held by Intel. The first suit names Via and Elitegroup Computer Systems as defendants, while the second names Via Technologies Europe Ltd. and Realtime Distribution Ltd.

In Hong Kong, Intel alleges infringement of three Hong Kong patents by Via's C3 processor. That suit names Via and Trend Electronics (HK) Ltd. as defendants.

"While not unexpected, we see the suits as without merit," Via spokesman Dan Havey said. "This is just typical Intel legal marketing wrangling."

"We are currently involved in defending our own (intellectual property) against Intel, we're focusing on that," Havey said.

In June, Via introduced the latest C3 processor, a mobile version running at 800MHz. The company expects the 0.13 micron processor to be used in a variety of Internet appliances, including set-top boxes.

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Douglas F. Gray

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