MIPS Technologies Inc. announced Monday that embedded microprocessor maker Lexra Inc. has agreed to state that its chips are not compatible with MIPS' products.
The announcement resolves a lawsuit filed by MIPS in April 1998, charging Lexra had illegally claimed that its products were compatible with the instructions used to program MIPS R-series of embedded microprocessors. MIPS, though, had not licensed its chip designs or instruction sets to Lexra.
Lexra has filed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that it will not represent its products as MIPS-compatible, and will state that its products do not support all of the MIPS instructions. Lexra has also agreed not to use the MIPS trademark or use product names that are similar to those that MIPS has chosen.
"You have to be able to protect yourself," said John Bourgoin, chief executive of Mountain View, Calif.-based MIPS, in an interview. "There are companies in the market place today that have MIPS knock-offs in various forms. We have about 50 patents today that have been issued, another 20 that are pending, and we don't think that you can do our product today without violating our patents."
When asked which companies he implied produced MIPS "knock-offs," Bourgoin replied, "Lexra's a good example."
Lexra has maintained that "the suit represents a sham dispute brought out of MIPS's fears of Lexra's superior products," according to a statement released Tuesday by Waltham, Mass.-based Lexra. "To resolve this petty and unnecessary distraction quickly, Lexra agreed to make certain minor changes to its product literature. In fact, Lexra has already made many of the changes because it wanted to avoid any possible confusion with MIPS."
In an interview, Lexra executives said they're eager to continue the fight, but in the marketplace. "It's not the first time a big company has beat up a small company in legal proceedings," said Charlie Cheng, Lexra's chief executive, in an interview. '"We're eager to get this settled and get back to competing just on the product's merits."
Under the terms of the MOU, Lexra is compelled to state that Lexra's LX-4080 chip "executes all MIPS I instructions except for its unaligned load and store instructions." But Cheng added that those unaligned load and store instructions are simply emulated.
Both sides will pay their own legal fees and costs, according to the MOU.