SAN FRANCISCO In a court filing made Thursday (Sept. 14), Magma Design Automation Inc. asked U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney to deny a motion filed by rival EDA vendor Synopsys Inc. seeking to block the reexamination of two Magma patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).
On Aug. 18, Austin, Texas-based patent attorney Michael Scheinberg filed a request with the PTO seeking reexamination of two of the three patents at the core of the ongoing Synopsys-Magma patent infringement litigation here. The request was filed on behalf of an unidentified third party. Magma's Thursday filing identifies the third party as top-tier EDA vendor Mentor Graphics Corp.
The PTO has 90 days from the date of filing to determine if it will reexamine the patents. Judge Chesney previously issued an order preventing Magma from requesting reexamination of the patents.
Magma's motion states that there are several grounds for the court to deny the Synopsys motion, saying "there is no legal authority for seeking a stay in the PTO" where a reexamination has been requested but not ordered.
According to David Stanley, Magma's vice president of corporate affairs, Magma's argument is that until the PTO makes a determination of whether or not it will reexamine the patents in question, the court should not get involved. Should the PTO decide to reexamine the patents, the court should still not get involved, according to Stanley.
"The way the law is written, the PTO is supposed to conduct its office without respect to any ongoing litigation," Stanley said.
Last month, the PTO rejected all 15 claims of a Synopsys patent that is the third and final patent involved in the litigation.
According to Stanley, it is Magma's contention that if all the patents involved are ultimately invalidated by the PTO, the case would essentially be over.
Stanley said Magma does not know why Mentor requested the reexamination. He speculated that it was because "this litigation doesn't do anyone in EDA any good."
"It's ironic that Magma concedes it took our patents and then complains when we ask them to give them back so we can protect our own property," said Yvette Huygen, worldwide PR manager for Synopsys. "Magma has no interest in protecting these patents. In fact, it's to Magma's advantage to let them be invalidated."
"Whether these patents are owned by IBM, Magma or Synopsys is not the current issue," Stanley said. "What is at issue is the validity of these patents. It is significant that an industry leader such as Mentor has examined the facts in these patents and has now determined that a reexamination of them is required to test the validity of the patents."
Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.) and Magma (Santa Clara, Calif.) have been involved in a contentious patent dispute since September 2004, when Synopsys 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 an April trial here 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.