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ATopTech’s Legal Woes Continue!

ATopTech’s Legal Woes Continue!
by Daniel Nenni on 06-11-2014 at 8:00 pm

 It was a bad sign when an EDA company solicited John Cooley’s help in their legal challenge: See Did Atoptech Just Astroturf Synopsys? Gabe Moretti also did an article: John Cooley Barrister Chastises Synopsys | Gabe on EDA. An even worse sign is when your legal team gets disqualified, especially when that legal team is the top EDA litigator. I read about the DQ ruling and confirmed it with ATopTech CEO Jue-Hsien Chern at #51DAC. Barrister John Cooley must have missed this one?

The case is Synopsys Inc. v. ATopTech Inc., case number 3:13-cv-02965, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In the latest ruling the Judge said she does not favor a counsel change partway through the case but under the circumstances she feels the law would require it.

The ATopTech legal team was O’Melveny & Meyers (OMM). They represented Prolific in Prolific v. Magma way back when I was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Prolific. Since I am intimately familiar with the case I’m probably still barred from revealing details but what I can tell you is that no way would I want to be on the wrong side of the table with Darin Snyder and his OMM team. They won a nice settlement for Prolific in that case and went on to represent Magma for more than a decade including the infamous Synopsys v. Magma patent case.

As you may remember, Synopsys and Magma engaged in an epic patent battle that ended with MILLIONS of dollars of legal fees and a cross-licensing deal requiring Magma to pay Synopsys $12.5 million in 2007. In my opinion this is what killed Magma and facilitated the Synopsys acquisition/assimilation. The ironic part of this one is that it all started with a snippy legal letter from Magma to Synopsys. The OMM legal team is being DQ’d as a result of this case, having intimate knowledge of Synopsys/Magma. The question I have is why was this not flagged by ATopTech earlier in the legal process?

Avant! suffered a similar fate at the hands of Cadence and yes I worked for Avant! so I have that legal battle scar as well. In fact, it was the Avant! experience that pushed me into business law for my post graduate work, more to AVOID legal problems than to solve them. Seriously, litigation sucks the life out of you, absolutely. Ironically or not ATopTech CEO Jue-Hsien Chern also worked for Avant! so he knows this by experience.

OMM also represented Berkeley Design Automation in the Cadence v. BDA suit that was settled right before the Mentor acquisition. I was on retainer to BDA during that time so I must recuse myself from further comment. What I can say is included in this blog: Mentor Acquires BDA!

The common thread in all of the EDA legal challenges in my view is the money spent. Millions and millions of dollars wasted. If you count everyone’s time it would be hundreds of millions of dollars that could have been spent on research and development and other things for the greater good of the fabless semiconductor ecosystem.

I have no idea how much longer ATopTech can last under this pressure but my guess is that an “acquisition” is coming. I do feel that if this case was an easy one Darin would have settled it like he did with BDA, just my opinion of course.


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