MYSTERY SURROUNDS an out of court settlement that the University of Wisconsin at Madison has made with Intel.
The university's patenting arm sued Chipzilla over technology used in Intel's Core 2 Duo Processor.
According to the AP, the case was expected to go to trial yesterday but both sides notified the court that they had reached a settlement. But no one is saying what the agreement was because the terms were confidential.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation claimed Intel half-inched technology created by university researchers.
The microarchitecture of the Intel Core family of processors infringed on a 1998 patent based on work by Gurindar Sohi, a computer science professor.
Intel had supported Sohi's research with about $90,000 in gifts in the 1990s and argued it was entitled to the intellectual property that resulted from Sohi's work.
However US District Judge Barbara Crabb laughed Chipzilla's argument out of court and ordered the case to trial.
She said that the funding terms did not give Intel the right to use patents resulting from the work. However she said that any infringement by Intel was not willful because the funding agreements were ambiguous.
A jury was expected to decide whether infringement had occurred and, if so, how much damages to award the foundation.
The technology increased the speed and efficiency of Intel's processors, including the Core 2 line.
What is interesting about the case is that Intel had a somewhat cozy relationship with Sohi, who was chairman of the computer science department from 2004 to 2008.
Apparently he worked with Chipzilla in a grants for technology deal so Intel would not have to pay for university administrative costs.
An email showed up in which an Intel employee told Sohi not to go through the university's bureaucrats with a proposal. It promised that Intel would make gifts for work on the ideas.
Sohi presented his data to Intel, recommended his students for jobs there and sought recommendations from Intel for awards and government grants.
He wrote an email in 2000 in which he said he had a gentleman's agreement with Intel under which he would not seek patents and would tell Chipzilla if he did.
This cozy arrangement came unstuck when the university decided that Intel did not have rights to the technology and sought the 1998 patent that was the basis for the current court case.
The university pursued talks with Intel in 2001, 2006 and 2007 asking it to pay royalties in exchange for using Sohi's technology but finally filed the lawsuit after those talks stalled. µ
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