SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has rejected all 15 claims found in a Synopsys Inc. patent that is one of three patents at the heart of the high-profile dispute between Synopsys and Magma Design Automation Inc.
According to a communication issued by the PTO earlier this month, a re-examination of the claims found in U.S. patent No. 6,378,114, held by Synopsys, rejected the claims on the basis of "prior art," including a previous patent granted for the synthesis approach to timing closure of the PowerPC processor.
A statement released by Magma Thursday applauded the PTO's action, but noted that it does not invalidate the patent. The statement described the ruling as "an intermediate step in the re-examination process that may ultimately result in the patent being deemed invalid."
"We are very happy with this [ruling]," David Stanley, Magma's vice president of corporate affairs, told EE Times. "We have all along questioned the validity of the three patents that are at issue in California. This gives us a ruling that says that the PTO agrees with us."
Stanley added that the PTO's action is not a final ruling. Synopsys, he said, has a two-month window to file a response before the PTO makes a final ruling.
Yvette Huygen, Synopsys senior manager of worldwide PR, downplayed the action.
"This is a patent office action affecting one of three patents being asserted against Magma in the California proceedings," Huygen said. "The '114 patent does not relate to the fixed timing methodology that is at the core of the case against Magma, so we expect this action to have no effect on the recently concluded trial."
The Synopsys patent at issue is one of three involved in the companies' high-profile patent infringement litigation in California. The case went to trial in U.S. District Court here in April.
Synopsys and Magma have been waging a fight over patents since September 2004. Synopsys claims that technology that was originally developed at Synopsys underlies Magma products, which Magma disputes.
The other two patents at the heart of the California dispute (the companies are also involved in litigation in Delaware over different patents) are held by Magma. A year ago, the U.S. District Court here issued
a restraining order preventing Magma from abandoning or seeking re-examination of these two patents.
Magma maintains that all three patents are invalid based on prior art.
Huygen said Synopsys continues to await a ruling on the recently concluded first phase of the trial here. A second phase of the trial will be scheduled after the first ruling, which could come at any time.