SAN FRANCISCO Synopsys Inc. has filed a motion requesting the reopening of limited discovery in its high-profile patent litigation with archrival Magma Design Automation Inc.
In a court filing dated Sept. 22, Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.) asks federal judge Maxine Chesney to reopen the trial to limited discovery so that it may examine the circumstance surrounding a request by a third party that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) reexamine two Magma patents at the heart of the dispute.
In August, an anonymous third partysince identified as Mentor Graphics Corp.filed a request that the PTO reexamine two patents, held by Magma, which are among three patents named in a federal lawsuit that came to trial here earlier this year. Magma had been prevented from seeking reexamination of these patents by a ruling issued by Chesney on Aug. 30, 2005. That ruling was issued at Synopsys' request.
In the Sept. 22 motion, Synopsys argues that statements from Magma executives imply that Magma may have "assisted 'behind the scenes' with the filing of the reexamination requests." Synopsys urges the court to grant leave to request limited discovery focusing on the requests.
The validity of the third patent named in the California lawsuitheld by Synopsysis in question after all 15 claims contained within it were rejected by a preliminary PTO judgment in August. If the three patents named in the suit were ultimately invalidated by the PTO, the trial here would essentially be over. However, such an outcome would take many months and likely face legal challenges. At this point, the PTO has not even determined if it will comply with Mentor's request and reexamine the patents.
Synopsys' motion states that the reexamination requests "are nearly identical to the draft reexamination requests" that Magma filed in opposition to a request by Synopsys for a preliminary injunction barring Magma from seeking to have patents reexamined. "The two documents are nearly identical," the motion states.
David Stanley, Magma's vice president of corporate affairs, told EE Times earlier this month that Magma learned that Mentor was the third party when that company contacted his outside counsel after filing the reexamination request. Stanley also previously told EE Times that Magma played no role in the reexamination request.
Synopsys also filed Sept. 22 a response brief urging the court to grant its request for a preliminary injunction barring the PTO from honoring Mentor's request and reexamining the Magma patents. In that brief, Synopsys notes that the court has previously ruled that a reexamination of the relevant patents without Synopsys acting as owner of those patents would create a risk of irreparable harm to Synopsys and would not be in the public interest.
The Synopsys-Magma case in California remains 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. Magma recently withdrew claims of infringement on one patent in that case, while Synopsys withdrew two patents from consideration and placed them in the public domain.
Synopsys 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.