SAN JOSE -- Two perennial EDA industry rivals, Mentor Graphics Corp. and the Quickturn subsidiary of Cadence Design Systems Inc., are heading back to the courthouse.
Mentor has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Jose alleging misappropriation of trade secrets in connection with some debugging technology that Mentor claims was developed by Meta Systems, the French emulation company purchased by Mentor in 1996.
Mentor is already engaged in two patent infringement lawsuits against Quickturn -- one filed on its own, and one filed in conjunction with Aptix Corp. -- in San Francisco Federal Court. Quickturn previously sued Mentor for patent infringement, and successfully blocked the sale of the Meta-developed SimExpress emulator in the United States. Mentor engaged in a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful hostile takeover bid for Quickturn, which ended up in the arms of Cadence in 1998.
"We recently discovered that Quickturn had a patent issued to them that covered technology included in a Meta Systems patent filing made in 1995 or 1996," said Dean Freed, vice president and general counsel for Mentor Graphics. "It was the subject of the due diligence review by Quickturn when they were looking at acquiring Meta in the 1995 time frame."
In the new lawsuit, Mentor is seeking an order correcting the inventorship of the Quickturn patent to name Meta Systems engineers as the true inventors, along with an order assigning the patent to Mentor. The lawsuit also requests an injunction against the use of the debugging technology in any Quickturn products, as well as unspecified punitive damages.
Freed said the new Quickturn patent is titled, "Distributed logic analyzer for use in hardware emulation systems." He could not say which Quickturn products, if any, currently use this technology. He charged that Quickturn gained the patent by failing to disclose the Meta debugging work as "prior art."
Quickturn representatives were unavailable for comment. No hearing date has been set for the lawsuit.