Just a few days ago, we reported about how Apple narrowly escaped a high penalty payment to a so-called patent troll (to the article). Now it has become known that Intel, another giant electronics company, has become the victim of an alleged patent lawsuit. However, the world-renowned chipmaker doesn’t seem to be quite as lucky as the iPhone inventors. The company is expected to pay a whopping $2.18 billion due to an alleged patent infringement. An attempt to reopen the case has now failed at the competent judge.
Judge did not allow suit
VLSI Technology is behind the billion-dollar lawsuit. The company was proven right in the first instance, which has now prompted Intel to file an appeal. However, the attempt to challenge has so far been unsuccessful. Despite several motions, Alan Albright (judge at the responsible U.S. District Court in Texas) sees no reason to reopen the proceedings. The first trial took place in the spring of this year. The plaintiff, VLSI Technology, emerged victorious on the basis of two patents infringed by Intel.
The patents in question are US7725759B2 (clock rate adjustment) and US7523373B2 (memory operation at low voltage). What initially sounds like a legitimate cause of action turns out to be questionable behavior on the part of the plaintiff on closer inspection. One has to bear in mind that VLSI Technology itself does not have any products on offer. The company only makes money by paying penalties for infringed patents. Insiders speak of “patent trolls” in such cases.
Procedural errors were made
Intel was also well aware that VLSI Technology was a black sheep in the industry. Accordingly, the giant tech company also argued in its appeal that several procedural errors were made during the first instance. In particular, it said, Intel’s “ability to present its case and receive a fair trial was severely impaired.” In particular, he said, the jury was driven in the wrong direction by faulty instructions.
But in addition to this motion for a new trial, other attempts are said to have been set in motion by Intel. Among other things, this involves the accusation that the penalty payment requested by the plaintiff alone is disproportionate. With the 2.18 billion US dollars, the money requested is out of all proportion. On top of that, there is still another outstanding request that the district court has yet to decide on. According to the established U.S. rule “Unclean Hands,” the patent troll’s conduct was unethical.
Decision could be groundbreaking
Experts in patent law around the world are already looking to the decision of the U.S. judge. Intel could in fact provide a landmark decision here for future patent decisions as well. Above all, the handling of questionable companies such as VLSI Technology could finally be regulated. Should the result not be in Intel’s favor, the company is already showing a corresponding will to fight. From the chip manufacturer’s point of view, a way to the next higher instance is then unavoidable.