Tue, Nov 27, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Intel still targeting VIA

BLOOMBERG , TAIPEI

Intel Corp, the world's biggest maker of chipsets, said a recent US court ruling in favor of rival VIA Technologies Inc (威盛電子) is a partial victory and doesn't mark the end of the legal dispute between the two.

Last week, the US District Court in San Jose threw out one of three patent infringement suits filed by Intel against VIA, Taiwan's No. 1 maker of chipsets. The dispute centers around allegations VIA used intellectual property used in Intel's Pentium III processor in a chipset the Taiwanese company designed to support a processor from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

The ruling marks the latest development in the long-simmering dispute between Intel and VIA, which holds 40 percent of the US$3 billion global market for chipsets. Stung by the legal tangle, VIA last month said it would begin selling motherboards under its own brand to boost demand for its chipsets, the components that control the flow of data between the processor and other parts of a computer.

"The case is still ongoing and is headed for trial," said VIA spokesman Chuch Mulloy via telephone from California. "We haven't decided whether to appeal the court's latest ruling."

In early September, Intel sued Via in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, claiming the Taiwanese company infringed five of its patents by selling without a license chipsets to accompany Intel's family of Pentium4 processors. VIA countered days later, suing Intel for infringing its patents and destroying property.

Intel turned up the heat in late September, extending its lawsuit against VIA to three countries. Taipei-based Via infringed on patents in Germany, the UK and Hong Kong, the biggest maker of computer chips and chipsets said in a statement.

Santa Clara, California-based Intel's legal battles with Via encompass the use of technology associated with the world's biggest chipmaker's Pentium III and Pentium4 processors. Portions of the legal scuffle have been settled out of court by Via paying Intel an undisclosed sum of money.

The Pentium4 lawsuit is pending. Manuela Mercandelli, VIA's spokeswomen, wouldn't comment on the Pentium4 dispute.

"What will really impact VIA's share price is settlement of the Pentium4 business," said Cheng Yi-sheng, who helps manage NT$1.5 billion (US$43 million) in Taiwan investments at Taiwan Securities Co (台証證券). "Intel won't easily settle with VIA because it wants to roll out its own products and increase its market share."

Intel, which has more than 50 percent of the chipset market, is trying to shut out VIA by denying the company a license for the Pentium4, giving permits instead to two smaller chipset designers. VIA, which began selling Pentium4 chipsets in August, said it does not require a license for their sale, a claim Intel refutes.

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