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Intel Countersues Transmeta 42

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the can't-we-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After being sued by Transmeta for patent infringement last year, the fangs are out at Intel. In a suit filed in Delaware, Intel claims Transmeta has infringed on 7 of its patents. The whole saga revolves around chips designed to be energy efficient."
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Intel Countersues Transmeta

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  • by mikerubin (449692) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:12AM (#17590344)
    Have they thought about the energy wasted in pursuing the lawsuits ?
    • by cp.tar (871488)
      It's negligible compared to the energy wasted by the good old P4s.
    • Or as the Second Law of Legal-Dynamics states: 'In any process to convert the heat energy that flows from a hot object to a colder object into work, there will inevitably be some loss. One cannot transform 100% of the heat flow into productive work.'
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:15AM (#17590380) Journal
    ... starts to crumble as far as its ability to bring the bestest and most advancedist products to the coinsumer.
    • by McGiraf (196030)
      "... starts to crumble as far as its ability to bring the bestest and most advancedist products to the coinsumer."

      Damn thoze pesky pateants on speel chikers!
      • "bestest", "advancedist" and "coinsumer" are perfectly cromulent words!

        They just haven't found their way into the dictionaries yet.

  • by steinnes (774991) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:17AM (#17590392) Homepage
    A couple of years ago I saw Stallman lecture about the dangers of software patents. A lot of his speech revolved around the busting of the myth of the "patent empowering the little guy", ie. the myth of the lone inventor walking down the street demanding money from the likes of Intel, IBM, Microsoft, because of his mighty patent. Stallman explained that if such a situation would arise, the large companies would simply find ways of countersuing for infringement of some of their numerous patents, thus forcing the smaller entity to give up it's claims, and possibly settle the countercase by giving up it's own patent.

    This is something he referred to as a patent plateau -- where the large companies are all so far beyond the reach of smaller entities, be it individuals or companies, that patents in the hands of those not "on the plateau", are practically useless.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by loki_tiwaz (982852)
      The scenario Stallman talks about is altogether too obviously possible. Patents are evil and should be eradicated.

      The only way for the little guy to really fight the big guys is to release inventions into the public domain where they will be produced by whoever sees a market for them rather than whoever wants to pay the outrageous license fee and royalties. The only incentive for this is purely ethical, although one must consider the fame for this will most likely result in a R&D job somewhere. But who
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by broller (74249)
        One has to ask the question: if Transmeta had not sued Intel, would Intel have sued Transmeta

        Thank you for not using "begs the question" here.

        It seems likely that the answer is no. Transmeta was not a threat to Intel, so they had no pressing reason to sue. If Intel did decide to sue, and won, the bad publicity would far outweigh anything they could win in court. If Intel lost, the publicity would be worse, and they'd set a bad precedent for the other "little guys" out there. Transmeta forced the hands o
      • by Ksempac (934247)
        One has to ask the question: if Transmeta had not sued Intel, would Intel have sued Transmeta?

        Of course not.

        Intel doesnt waste time suing little unknown companies. This is just a way to force Transmeta to accept a settlement instead of going in front of the judge for an endless trial...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      He's almost right. The little guy can go up against the big guy and win, as long as the little guy doesn't make the mistake of making anything first. If Transmeta had sold their patents to a shell company (in exchange for, say 99% of the royalties), then the shell company could have sued Intel, and Intel would only have been able to sue Transmeta, not the shell company.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by steinnes (774991)
        Ah, thank you for pointing out an interesting solution to this problem -- however, the possibility of the larger company suing the company which owns the shell company still exists. So the only real solution is to develop a patent, and not intend to use it for anything -- ie. not intend to use this wonderful "new technology" to bring more prosperity to the human race (or however the patent system was first envisioned). Personally I think that the patent system as it currently stands needs some sort of overh
    • by Tim C (15259)
      This is something he referred to as a patent plateau -- where the large companies are all so far beyond the reach of smaller entities, be it individuals or companies, that patents in the hands of those not "on the plateau", are practically useless.

      Only if you go up against one of the big guys, and are unfortunate enough to have infringed some of their patents. If you don't actually produce anything, or if you otherwise manage not to infringe any of their patents, or if you only go after smaller companies, t
      • On the other hand, without patents, there would be nothing to stop Company A spending years and millions of pounds developing something, then brining it to market, then watching Company B spending a couple of months and a few thousand pounds reverse engineering it and bringing their own version to market at a reduced price.

        Ahh... but this is exactly the argument we're talking about as being invalid.

        If company B is one of the "big guys", they can use their patent portfolio to force a cross-licensing agreem

    • by dsanfte (443781)
      Please learn English, thanks.
    • '' A couple of years ago I saw Stallman lecture about the dangers of software patents. A lot of his speech revolved around the busting of the myth of the "patent empowering the little guy", ie. the myth of the lone inventor walking down the street demanding money from the likes of Intel, IBM, Microsoft, because of his mighty patent. Stallman explained that if such a situation would arise, the large companies would simply find ways of countersuing for infringement of some of their numerous patents, thus forc
      • by Darth (29071)
        But he is not correct. If I find that Microsoft is infringing on my one and only patent in every shipping copy of Windows XP, and Microsoft finds that some software of which I sold 200 copies infringes on 100 of their patents, once damages are compared, I still win.

        No, you don't. Long before you (maybe) win your patent suit, you are bankrupted and your patent is sold off to pay your creditors. Someone might actually get a payout from Microsoft, but your company is dissolved and you don't get anything.
    • You are exactly correct, but don't forget about patent trolls. Small company X can't sue IBM for patent infringement because Intel will counterclaim and destroy company X. So company X sells its patents to a patent troll and the troll then sues Intel. Because the troll produces no products, it is immune from Intel's counterclaims. Of course, everyone on /. would complain about the troll and say how unfair patents are, but company X (the small guy) still benefits from selling its patent to the troll.

      Ba

  • hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    Like silicon graphics I think transmeta was suing out of desperation. Do they even make processors anymore? I did like their on chip, heat based, random number generator.
  • It seems more likely to me that this thing will eventually blow over with the two sides agreeing to a patent portfolio sharing agreement. It's worked for AMD, and I suspect Trnasmeta would like to reach that point as well.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:12AM (#17590958) Homepage
    But only if you don't have a product of your own.

    The patent system can serve two groups:

    1) The big companies, who can keep newcomers out.
    2) Litigation companies, with no purpose other than suing.

    It can not serve the little guy with an innovative products, as all products build on older ideas, and the lifetime of a patent is much longer than the generation gab between products.

    If you have a great patentable idea, and want to make money on it, here is what you must do: Patent it. Distribute it widey, for example, if applicable, as source code under a BSD/MIT style license. Watch others build products on it. Sue them. Never, ever, make the mistake of creating a product of your own. The time where you could get rich by identifying a need, and selling a product to fulfill it, is long gone.
    • But only if you don't have a product of your own.

      The patent system can serve two groups:

      1) The big companies, who can keep newcomers out.
      2) Litigation companies, with no purpose other than suing.

      It can not serve the little guy with an innovative products, as all products build on older ideas, and the lifetime of a patent is much longer than the generation gab between products.

      Nonsense. I've personally known "little guys" (several million in funding, family members of mine, friends, etc) that have success

  • by wjcofkc (964165)
    The laywers at Transmeta must surely have seen how the SCO battle recently ended. It's remarkable that they haven't taken that as lesson learned for them by someone else.

    This tactic of trying to make a bunch of money via litigation before tanking a failed company is so uncertain - and with such a potential for backfire - I can't image why anyone would go that route.

    If they wanted to make money before closing up shop, they should have sold thier patents.

    -W

  • They must feel fucked..
  • by transami (202700) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:02PM (#17592922) Homepage
    You people floor me. You mash all day long about how poor the patent system is, and then when someone tries to uphold legitimate patents you label them money-grubbing losers. Doesn't anyone remember what happened? Transmeta comes along with a revolutionary new perspective and implementation of teh CPU based on the idea of power efficiency and the big wig Intel just cuts them out of the picture by copying them. Now, power efficiency is the new "MHz" and the company we have to thank for it is being kicked about and compared to scoundrels like SCO. This has all the same characteristics of Netscape vs. Microsoft, but we can see by the results of that case people really care about.

    It makes me sick.
    • They used technology pioneered by others before them. And those people also build on older technology. Given that Intel really is one of the major pioneers in CPUs, it is quite likely that the Intel patents are as legitimate as the Transmeta patent.

      The Netscape vs Microsoft is totally inappropriate, neither company was pioneer in anything but the commercializing of existing technology.
  • I guess Intel learned its lesson from its Intergraph experience. Here was a company that was brought back in business via its win against Intel in a IP suit: http://library.findlaw.com/2003/May/13/132730.html [findlaw.com]
  • I personally am an adherent to something akin to the RMS philosophy. I believe information wants to be free, and that patents and copyrights should be gradually phased back to their original very limited focus and scope.

    That said, the facts show that Transmeta decided to play by the rules and compete in the chip business. The facts also show that they received the standard treatment from one of the two biggest technology monopolists of our age, Intel (our friend M$ being the other). Intel has a long history
    • Without AMD, Transmeta, Cyrix, and any other x86 clone manufacturers that failed along the way the CPU market still wouldn't be as bad as you seem to think. You're forgetting about all the other companies that make microprocessors. I hear IBM makes some pretty nice stuff that you could easily run a desktop-grade computer off of. The other company that you shouldn't forget about is Motorola. Beyond that there are around 50 other companies that currently have fabs that you could make a decent microprocessor

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