SAN MATEO, Calif. Ikos Systems Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have co-filed a patent infringement suit against startup Axis Systems Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) in the U.S. District Court in Delaware for violating one MIT and three Ikos patents involving emulation technology.
The suit alleges that Axis' Xcite1000 and Xcite2000 emulators infringe the Virtual Wires Technology patent filed by MIT in 1994.
Ramon Nunez, Ikos' president and chief executive officer, said Ikos is the sole licensee of the MIT Virtual Wires technology and that Axis' emulators clearly violate that patent as well as three others that Ikos has patented to improve the original Virtual Wires technology.
The Ikos and MIT joint filing is yet another litigation for the hardware-based verification niche of the EDA industry. Quickturn, a Cadence Design Systems company, has been embroiled in a similar suit with Mentor Graphics for years. And Mentor Graphics recently filed a suit against Aptix.
"This isn't the kind of thing that we like to do, and it is a black eye to the industry, said Nunez. "But when a violation of our patent is this obvious this black and white we really had to file the suit and protect our market position."
Nunez isn't the only one who believes the company simply had to file a suit. Steve Carlson, chief executive officer at Tharas Systems (Santa Clara, Calif.), another Ikos competitor and a company that can claim to be one of the only in this niche that hasn't been involved in litigation, at least yet, said in this case the patent violation is "obvious."
"Axis has been selling emulation technology to the acceleration market.
Ikos finally noticed and looks to have caught Axis red handed," said Carlson. "I believe that Axis' more aggressive marketing into the emulation space prompted Ikos to take this action."
Axis Systems' director of marketing, Yukari Chen, said Axis has not had sufficient time to review the complaint but is confident Axis will prevail.
"We have nine patents filed, with 3 granted thus far," said Chen. "Our technology is solid and we can defend this."
Nunez said the company has filed suit based on what it believes are violation of two Ikos patents in the area of "virtual interconnections for reconfigurable logic systems," in which the Virtual Wires technology is included. The company is also claiming Axis violates two patents in the areas of "transitional analysis and circuit resynthesis method and device for digital circuit modeling."
Ikos and MIT are seeking an injunction to block Axis' further alleged infringement. They are also seeking damages for an unspecified amount.