Intel may owe a lot of cash to a semiconductor company that has not existed for 20 years. A Texas jury has asked Intel to pay $ 2.18 billion for infringement of two patents owned by VLSI Technology. According to Bloomberg.
VLSI apparently rose from the dead in 2019 to specifically sue. The last time it was an independent company was in 1999, when Philips bought semiconductor design firm for $ 1 billion. His assets later traveled to Philips spinoff NXP (which you know, among other things, from his NFC chips that you can pay for). NXP will apparently also get some of Intel’s money.
One of VLSI’s claims of fame was part of the original project with Apple and Acorn to manufacture the first ARM processors – and the ARM company – responsible for the substructure of the chips now present on every smartphone, most tablets and a growing number of laptops and servers.
Technically, the patents are newer than everyone of that VLSI history. They were originally issued to Freescale Semiconductor and Sigmatel in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and the earliest of these were submitted in 2005. Bloomberg reported that they were all assigned to the new VLSI in 2019, an LLC affiliated with a Fortress Investment Group.
According to VLSI as a zombie brand, this was an argument according to Intel Bloomberg:
VLSI ‘took two patents off the shelf that had not been used for ten years and said,’ We want $ 2 billion, ‘Lee told the jury. The ‘outrageous’ claim of VLSI ‘would tax the real innovators.’
But that has not stopped jurors from awarding about a tenth of Intel’s annual profits – $ 2.18 billion – for infringing two of the three patents. (These are about ‘managing clock speed in an electronic device’, ‘a minimum memory operating voltage technique’ and ‘voltage-based scale of memory size, if you’re curious.)
Tell Intel The edge that it is not finished yet: “Intel does not fully agree with the verdict of today’s jury. We intend to appeal and are confident that we will prevail. ”
Fortress and VLSI Technology also have other lawsuits against Intel.