The patent defense arm of the University of Wisconsin hit Intel with a lawsuit this week, claiming abuse of intellectual property related to parallel processing.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has accused Intel of muscling in on US patent 5,781,752 which was granted with the title "Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer." The patent appears to cover a method of speculation where some advanced instructions are executed before others "on which they may be data dependent." By leaping ahead with some instructions, the processor can improve overall performance and handle multi-threaded software well.
The lawsuit claims Intel received a briefing on the technology from a Wisconsin researcher while the patent application was pending. In addition, the Wisconsin inventors allegedly continued to discuss licensing options with Intel as their patent moved through the approval process.
"Intel refused attempts to license the technology . . .," the lawsuit states. "Rather, Intel incorporated the work . . . into its planning of future products."
According to WARF, the technology in question has been found in Intel's Core micro architecture used as the basis for most of Intel's current chips.
WARF is seeking a jury trial and the standard compensation for damages.
"We’ve been served with the suit and are currently evaluating the issue," said an Intel spokesman. "I can confirm that we were in discussions with WARF on this issue for more than a year. We would expect to file our response in about 30 days."
In the past, WARF has enjoyed some success pursuing similar cases. It reached an out of court settlement with IBM in 2005 over technology related to copper-based computer chips. ®