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Sonics and Qualcomm Make a Deal

Sonics and Qualcomm Make a Deal
by Paul McLellan on 07-06-2014 at 9:00 am

 Some background. Sonics has been in the network-on-chip (NoC) business for a long time. Nearly 18 years years. When Arteris launched their products, Sonics figured Arteris were infringing Sonics’s patents and in 2011 brought a complaint against them. Details are here. Arteris looked at a couple of their own patents (if you are really that interested in the details, the patents are as follows: 7,574,629 – Method and device for switching between agents; 7,769,027 – Method and device for managing priority during the transmission of a message) and decided that Sonics was infringing them. But Arteris’ claims have been dismissed.

Qualcomm then bought a lot of Arteris. They acquired the engineering team, all the source code, the patents and so on. The old Arteris still has limited rights (to use the patents, the source code and to build a new engineering team). But Qualcomm now owns the two patents above.

That caused a problem for Sonic’s customers, especially ones that competed directly with Qualcomm. What if Qualcomm came after them for infringing the patents? In some ways, with the US legal system, it doesn’t matter too much whether you win or lose since the cost, the time and the distraction of a lawsuit means everyone loses.

So yesterday Sonics announced that they had signed a patent non-assert agreement on these two patents. Also all remaining claims in the case involving these patents have been dismissed pursuant to a joint motion by Qualcomm and Sonics. It is actually effective from March 24th.

Grant Pierce, the CEO of Sonics, emphasized that this is not the end of litigation.“As we have said before, Sonics will continue to seek protection for its broad patent portfolio, including patents that were invented and granted in the U.S., as outlined in Sonics’ complaint, Complaint for Patent Infringement (Sonics v. Arteris), of November 1, 2011. We are committed to seeing this time consuming process through to its completion.”

Talking of Grant Pierce, he was just elected to the EDAC board last month when the elections were held during #DAC51. He is the only new board member, the others continue from before.

There are a lot of moving parts in this story between Sonics, Arteris, Qualcomm and their respective customers and competitors. And of course the original Sonics complaint against Arteris is still to be decided. The Sonics press release is here.

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