TAIPEI, Taiwan In a move that lifts some of Taiwan's core logic for Pentium II systems from legal limbo, Via Technologies Inc. announced today (Nov. 30) that it has reached a joint patent license agreement with Intel Corp. The agreement solidifies the legality of Via's Pentium II Slot 1 core logic products, and helps to resolve several outstanding intellectual property issues relating to Via's chip sets.
Prior to today's announcement, core logic vendors from Taiwan hid behind manufacturing licenses and/or claimed that their products did not infringe Intel's patents.
Under their agreement, Intel has granted Via a patent license to make and sell certain members of its Apollo Pro family of chip sets, which Via designed to operate with Intel's P6 bus microarchitecture. In exchange for the license, Via has agreed to pay Intel royalties on the products licensed under the agreement. In addition, Via has granted Intel a cross license for the use of Via's patents. Specific details of the agreement are still confidential.
It is unclear if Taiwan's two other core logic designers, Acer Laboratories Inc. and Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS), will sign agreements with Intel. Officials at the two companies were not available for comment today.
Intel's response to Acer Labs' announcement of Pentium II level core logic last March sent Taiwanese vendors running for cover. At the time, Intel said it was ready to legally attack any Pentium II core logic vendors. "Intel has a series of patents for associated with the P6 bus and that is intellectual property we will protect," said a spokesman for Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.). "Intel intends to strictly protect its intellectual property rights, and we have enforced chip set intellectual property in the past."
Nevertheless, both Via and SiS continued to introduce Pentium II Slot 1 compatible products. First, BX compatible parts were announced that were priced at roughly half the cost of the Intel part. Both companies then announced the availability of chip sets that incorporated integrated graphics functions at the Pentium II level, similar to the unannounced Whitney chip set from Intel. Via uses a Trident graphics solution for its product. SiS uses its own proprietary graphics solution.