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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Venture backed by Bill Gates sues chip giants, PC industry

Talk about biting the hand that fed you.

Bellevue-based Intellectual Ventures — the patent licensing company led by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold and backed by Bill Gates — is suing two of the largest memory chip makers and most of the world’s major PC companies.

Intellectual Ventures is seeking royalties from chipmakers Hynix and Elpida, plus computer retailers Best Buy and Wal-Mart. It’s also going after PC and device makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Asustek, A-Data Technology, Kingston Technology, Pantech and Logitech.

Apparently licensing negotiations between the parties fell through.

The filing noted that Intellectual Ventures has bought more than 30,000 patents and collected nearly $2 billion in fees, but Hynix and Elpida “failed and refused to license Intellectual Ventures’ patents on reasonable terms and continues to use those inventions without permission.”

The spat is over whether the manufacturers should pay Intellectual Ventures a royalty on DDR2, DDR3 and GDDR4 memory products.

It said Intellectual Ventures first asked Hynix to obtain a patent license in 2008. Discussions continued through 2009 and 2010, with IV alleging that Hynix was using its inventions in its DRAM and Flash products, the suit said.

Similarly, IV contacted Elpida in 2009 and during 2010 attempted to negotiate a license.

“Despite repeated requests from Intellectual Ventures for a meeting, Elpida repeatedly delayed,” the firm said in its complaint, filed in federal court in Seattle.

Patents at issue include one for “memory devices with selectable access type and methods using the same” that was issued in 1997, three years before Intellectual Ventures began. Another is for “embedded enhanced DRAM, and associated method” that was issued in 1999.

Intellectual Ventures is seeking treble damages and legal fees, plus the royalties. The suit was reported earlier today by Bloomberg.

Here’s the filing from the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington:

IVvsHynixElpida.pdf

Comments | Topics: Bill Gates, Billionaire techies, billionaire techies

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