Intel must pay $949 million for a patent for VLSI to get an old chip patent

What just happened? In its ongoing battle against VLSI, the now-defunct manufacturer of custom integrated circuits (ICs), Intel has to pay a huge fine for infringement of a patent awarded nearly two decades ago. A Texas federal jury again ruled in favor of VLSI, a non-operating subsidiary of private equity firm Fortress Investment Group, and ordered Intel to pay $949 million. It’s money Santa Clara doesn’t want to spend on technology that doesn’t work even with the latest computer chips.

VLSI received the patent in question from Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors, and according to the patent attorneys, it will cause “millions and millions of breaches per second” inside Intel CPUs. Jury was convincedand VLSI was awarded the full amount of the damages claimed.

Patented US7247552B2 Covers “Technology for mitigating problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond bandages”. The patented technology will optimize wafer design before the actual manufacturing process, and add dummy metallic lines to connect the layers to increase the metallic density of the bonded layers.

From the point of view of VLSI, Intel is still using the patent on the Skylake and Cascade Lake CPU architectures, which are the processors launched in 2015 and 2019 respectively. However, VLSI’s patented technology dates back to 2005 for applications. The patent is still active and should theoretically expire in 2025.

According to Intel, its CPUs don’t use the disputed technology at all; Intel argued in court that Skylake and Cascade Lake use internally developed technologies, and the VLSI patent would not work with modern processors at all. Needless to say, the chip manufacturer was not pleased with the ruling and is going to file an appeal.

The $949 million fine is yet another episode in the legal war between Intel and VLSI, with the latter merely acting as an empty shell and patent-pitch intended to squeeze all the money they can from the former, still-operating company. In March, a Texas jury ordered Intel to pay VLSI More than $2 billionwhile in April, the second experiment ended in favor of Intel for Alleged $3 billion Patent infringement.

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