As strange as it may seem one of my hobbies is reading case law. It’s not only interesting to see what the human race is really up to, it is also good to know your rights in regards to things like defamation, especially when you are a New Media mogul like myself. Some of the funnier defamation cases are called “Twibel” as in libel on Twitter. Did you know that you risk legal action if you re-tweet a defaming tweet? Well, now you do. It may only be 140 characters but it could cost you millions of dollars in legal nonsense. Posting on LinkedIn is even more risky since your current employer is attached to everything you do.
I also follow the legal actions in our industry. Mostly because it makes for interesting reading but also because one of the things I do during the day is help keep my consulting clients out of trouble. Seriously, I have seen some very petty behavior amongst the fabless semiconductor ecosystem companies turn into multi-million dollar legal liabilities, absolutely.
Speaking of that, Sonics just posted an update to their legal action against Arteris:
Fact: Sonics is suing Arteris andArteris is activelyinvolved as defendant in the legal case brought by Sonics against Arteris in November 2011. The case was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of California. The judge has allowed the case to be put on hold (stayed) until the patent re-examinations are completed. EE Times coverage of the original filing of the lawsuit can be foundhere. A copy of the original filing can be foundhere.
Fact: Both Sonics and Arteris must provide information to the judge in a “Joint Status Report” every 6 months. The most recent report was filed in February of 2015. The report is signed by the lawyers of both companies, a copy of which is available at thewww.pacer.gov website.
Fact: With the past and continued sale of its NoC products in the market place, Sonics asserts that Arteris continues to infringe upon Sonics’ patents.
2) Arteris’ suit against Sonics for infringing two Arteris patents dismissed by the court
Fact: Arteris brought a legal case against Sonics in January 2012.Sonics rejected those claims.
Fact: Arteris’ case against Sonics has been dismissed by the court and since the Arteris patents are now owned by Qualcomm, Qualcomm entered into a covenant not to sue. See,Sonics Announces Patent Non-Assert Agreement with Qualcomm–July 2014. This agreement has no effect on Sonics case against Arteris which is still being litigated. Given that Arteris has sold all of its patents to Qualcomm, Sonics believes this provides some additional protection from future claims by Qualcomm and Arteris.
3) Arteris attempts to use the US Patent and Trademark Office (“US Patent Office”) to re-examine the patents asserted by Sonics against Arteris
Fact: Arteris attempted, but failedto put all sevenof the Sonics patents named in Sonics lawsuit against Arteris into re-examination with the US Patent Office. Sonics Patent No. 6,182,183 in its entire and original form overcame the challenge by Arteris in the Patent Office.
Fact: Those patents that aresubject to re-examination are still in processat the US Patent Office.
Fact:The US Patent Office maintainsstatistics about outcomes of re-examination proceedings. By all measures, Sonics’ patents are performing far better than the averages.
The interesting twist here is the Arteris technology acquisition by Qualcomm which brings me to the following questions: What does it mean to Qualcomm and their customers if Sonics prevails? Why didn’t QCOM do a preventive patent licensing agreement like ARM did? Is this a “WE HAVE MORE EXPENSIVE LAWYERS THAN YOU DO” situation?
Let’s not forget a little IP company called Tela sued QCOM’s customers and recently won a rumored $130M settlement. Preventative patent licensing agreements are a fraction of litigation which is why enlightened companies do them, right? Unless of course your legal staff has nothing better to do…