Intergraph has filed a lawsuit against Intel charging that the chip giant has wrongfully tried to coerce it into relinquishing certain patent rights.
Intergraph claims that once Intel failed to acquire for free Intergraph patents that define the architecture of a microprocessor's cache memory management, Intel withheld information causing a delay in the launch of products from the workstation company and interfered with its customer relationships.
"We cannot give away our valuable patents in order to get Intel to treat us fairly, nor should be we required to do so," Intergraph Chairman and CEO Jim Meadlock said in a letter to shareholders.
The lawsuit filed in US District Court, Northern District of Alabama, alleges that Intel's wrongful conduct includes interference with business and contractual relations, interference with technical assistance from third-party vendors, breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, negligence and infringement of computer technology patents owned by Intergraph. Intergraph is asking for monetary damages and injunctive
relief from Intel's anticompetitive actions.
The patents in question come from technology developed for Intergraph's Clipper microprocessor, which Intergraph used in its RISC/Unix workstations before the company moved over to the Intel/Windows NT platform, Intergraph said in a statement.
The saga stretches back to 1993, when Wade Patterson, president of Intergraph Computer Systems, suggested that both companies work together on an Intel/Windows platform as an alternative to the RISC/Unix systems. Although initially the relationship was smooth, Intel started to demand broad license grants of Intergraph technology including the patents in question as a condition of allowing Intergraph to participate in new product development programs, the Alabama company said.
Intergraph refused to hand over its license grants and said that in May this year Intel cut marketing and technical support to the workstation company. By failing to tell Intergraph of bugs found in the PIIX4 chip set in May and preventing a third-party vendor from giving Intergraph a bug-testing device in October, Intergraph had to waste resources on testing and delay the launch of workstations slated for August, the company said.
Intergraph also claims that Intel hinted to the workstation company's customers
that it may fund projects to use workstations other than those from Intergraph.
"The decision to file suit was a difficult one, given our formerly warm relationship with Intel and our dependence upon Intel's CPUs in our workstations, PCs and servers," Meadlock said in the letter. "But that very dependence - coupled with Intel's use of their dominant position to coerce us to give up our patent rights - has forced us to this action."
"Intel is trying to undermine us on multiple fronts, cutting us off from critical product information and support, escorting our competitors into our own accounts, and trying to obtain rights to our intellectual property," Meadlock stated. "It is necessary for us to
take legal action against Intel in order to defend our rapidly growing workstation business and our intellectual property."
Intergraph, in Huntsville, Alabama, can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.intergraph.com/.