SAN FRANCISCO Magma Design Automation said Wednesday (Aug. 23) that a third party has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to reexamine two U.S. patents held by Magma. The patentsU.S. Patents No. 6,453,446 and 6,725,438 are two of the three patents at the core of the ongoing patent dispute between Magma and Synopsys Inc. that went to trial earlier this year here.
The third patent at the core of the case, held by Synopsys, is currently in dispute after all 15 of its claims were rejected last week in a preliminary action by the PTO.
Magma had been barred from abandoning or requesting reexamination of the '446 and '438 patents held by the company by an August 2005 restraining order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. That order was issued at Synopsys' request.
The PTO's re-examination of the patents was requested by a third partyMichael Scheinberg, an Austin, Texas-based patent attorney. Scheinberg, reached by EE Times Wednesday, declined to comment further on his interest in the matter.
David Stanley, Magma's vice president of corporate affairs, told EE Times that Scheinberg did not request the re-examination on Magma's behalf.
The PTO has 90 days to determine whether to initiate reexamination proceedings on the Magma patents. In the event that last week's preliminary action against the Synopsys patent holds up and the PTO rejects the Magma patents after reexamination, it could dramatically alter, or effectively put an end to, the case in U.S. District Court here.
"It certainly would put an end to any claims of patent infringement," Stanley said.
Yvette Huygen, Synopsys senior manager of worldwide public relations, said requests for reexamination of patents in patent cases are fairly common. The request for reexamination of the Magma patents will have no impact on the judge's forthcoming ruling on the first phase of the trial here earlier this year, or the scheduling of the second phase of the trial, Huygen said.
"The timing and anonymous filer on the request for reexamination are both very curious," Huygen said.
The Synopsys-Magma case in California is currently in a holding pattern, pending a decision on the first phase of the trial, which concluded in April. Plans call for a second phase of the trial to commence at an unspecified date.
The two companies are also involved in a patent dispute in Delaware. Stanley said that of the six patents involved in the two cases, five are either being reexamined or considered for reexamination.
Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.) and Magma (Santa Clara, Calif.) have traded suits and charges since September 2004, when Synopsys originally sued Magma for patent infringement, claiming that Magma's former chief scientist timing closure methodology originally developed while employed by Synopsys in Magma's Blast Fusion IC physical design suite.
At the April trial to contest ownership of the technology behind all three relevant patents, Synopsys claimed to be the sole owner of the patents while Magma asserted the patents are jointly owned by Synopsys and IBM. Magma has maintained that it is entitled to the technology through a cross-licensing agreement that it has with IBM.