SAN FRANCISCO EDA vendor Magma Design Automation Inc. fired back at archrival Synopsys Inc. Monday (Sept. 18), calling last week's move by Synopsys to withdraw two patents from litigation between the two companies and place them in the public domain a "transparent, desperate attempt" to mask misdeeds Synopsys allegedly committed when it submitted the patent applications.
Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.) issued a statement Sept. 15 saying that, in an attempt to focus its Delaware litigation against Magma (Santa Clara, Calif.), it would dedicate certain of its inventions pertaining to scan chain partitioning, contained in two patents involved in the dispute, to the public domain.
Synopsys and Magma have been waging a patent fight on two fronts since 2004. In addition to the litigation in Delaware, the two companies are also involved in a separate patent infringement suit here that went to trial earlier this year. The San Francisco case is currently awaiting a ruling after the completion of its first phase. Maneuvers in the Delaware proceeding have no impact on the California case.
Only one of the three patents that Synopsys claimed Magma infringes is still at issue in the Delaware case, and Magma is proceeding with its charges that Synopsys violated U.S. antitrust law and that Synopsys infringes four of Magma's patents, according to Magma.
"We've seen these emotional outbursts from Magma before," said Yvette Huygen, a spokesperson for Synopsys. "Magma has already conceded that they took technology from Synopsys. Now they are trying to deflect the story from the potential outcome in the California case."
According to Magma, the Synopsys announcement that it would withdraw U.S. Patents 6,434,733 and 6,766,501 from the litigation and place them in the public domain came only after charges that their applications had been made fraudulently and the patent office commenced reexamination of the patents
"This action by Synopsys indicates to us that they recognize their patents to be invalid," said David Stanley, Magma's corporate vice president for corporate affairs.
Stanley said withdrawing the patents from the case is "too little, too late" and would not erase Synopsys' alleged violation of antitrust law. According to Stanley, it is clear Synopsys violated antirust law by filing suit against Magma.
"Protecting our intellectual property from companies that try to steal is hardly antitrust," Huygen said. "Donating patented technology to engineers in the public domain also cannot be described as antitrust."
Huygen declined to elaborate on Synopsys' reasons for donating technology involved in a patent litigation to the public domain.
"The bottom line is that we have dedicated it to the public," Huygen said. "It's a good thing for engineers. Synopsys has a long history of dedicating and donating technology for standards development."
Synopsys originally filed the Delaware suit against Magma in September 2005. The suit claimed that Magma infringes three of Synopsys' patents, the two Synopsys is not putting in the public domain.
Magma claimed in October 2005 the existence of relevant prior art pertaining to the '733 and '501 patents. Magma claimed that Synopsys had knowledge of the prior art but failed to cite in its applications to the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Magma said a claims construction "Markman" hearing is scheduled for December to delve into the question of Magma's alleged infringement of the third and final Synopsys patent named in the Delaware case. According to Magma, Synopsys acquired this patent through the 2004 acquisition of Monterey Design Systems.
"We believe that once the court completes its claims construction it will become clear we don't infringe [the patent]," Stanley said. "If so, there would be no further claims against Magma in this case."
Magma withdrew infringement claims against Synopsys on one of its four patents originally named in the Delaware case last month. Stanley said Monday that the fifth patent "quite possibly" would be reintroduced into the case.