HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--Four months after its legal victory over Intel Corp., Intergraph Corp. has filed a suit against Texas Instruments Inc., charging that TI's digital signal processors (DSPs) infringed upon its RISC technology for defining key aspects of parallel instruction computing (PIC).
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, claims that TI's TMS320C6000 line of DSPs infringe upon its PIC technology. This allegedly includes TI's C62x, C64x, and C67x products, according to the Huntsville-based software provider.
There are three patents involved in the TI suit: U.S. Patent No. 5,560,028 for "Software Scheduled Superscalar Computer Architecture," U.S. Patent No. 5,794,003 for "Instruction Cache Associative Crossbar Switch System," and U.S. Patent No. 6,360,313 B1 for "Instruction Cache Associative Crossbar Switch."
The patents in question define a method for grouping and routing instructions to multiple parallel processing units. Intergraph's patented PIC technology permits multiple processor operations to occur simultaneously, thereby significantly increasing processor performance.
Intergraph developed its PIC technology in the early 1990s, when the company's former processor designed its C5 Clipper microprocessor. Intergraph no longer makes or sells the C5 chip. TI's TMS320C6000 family of products was introduced in 1997.
Still, Intergraph is moving full speed ahead in the suit against TI, the acknowledged leader in DSP market. "It is necessary that we take this step to protect our intellectual property,??? said Jim Taylor, Intergraph's CEO, in a statement. ???TI's TMS320C6000 family of processors infringes upon Intergraph's patented PIC technology. The parallel instruction computing technology at issue in this lawsuit is another example of the leadership role Intergraph has played in computer design."
This represents the latest major legal announcement from Intergraph. In October of last year, a U.S. district court in Texas ruled that Intel Corp.'s 64-bit processor lines infringe upon Intergraph's PIC technology. Under terms of the settlement, the Texas Court's finding of infringement obligates Intel to pay Intergraph $150 million in damages.
Upon payment of the initial $150 million in damages, Intel then has three options: pay an additional $100 million to Intergraph and receive a license to the PIC patents; appeal the district court decision and, if they lose the appeal, pay Intergraph an additional $100 million; or try to design around the infringement.
The court also determined that Intergraph is entitled to an injunction on Intel's new family of 64-bit Itanium or Itanium 2 processors.
A U.S. district court barred Intel from selling its 64-bit line of microprocessors as a result of an unfavorable ruling, but then suspended the order to allow the company to appeal the decision.
Then, in December 2002, Intergraph filed suit against Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Gateway Inc. for infringing its Clipper memory management patents. That lawsuit will also be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.