German patent court rules against Intel over some of its chips

German patent court rules against Intel over some of its chips

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A court in Germany has issued an injunction against the sale of some of Intel’s chips, after finding in favour of a rival US company that had accused Intel of infringing its patent.

The ramifications of Wednesday’s ruling could be far-reaching and lead to a ban on the sale of HP and Dell products containing the Intel chips at the centre of the patent dispute, a person familiar with the matter said.

A spokesperson for the regional court in Düsseldorf, in western Germany, said it had found for the litigants, R2 Semiconductor, a technology group based in Palo Alto, California, against Intel.

Intel said it was “disappointed” with the decision and “intend[s] to appeal”. HP and Dell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case revolved around an R2 patent for voltage-regulating technology in chips. R2 had already scored one legal victory in the German Federal Patent Court in December, which ruled that its patent was valid. However, previously R2 has lost a case in the US. R2 has brought similar patent litigation in the UK.

“Intel must refrain from applying the patent in Germany,” the court spokesman said on Wednesday.

The lawsuit concerns Ice Lake, Tiger Lake and Alder Lake processors, which are Intel’s 10th, 11th and 12th generation processors respectively, as well as its Ice Lake Server (Xeon) processors.

A person close to Intel said some of the processors affected by the lawsuit have already been discontinued, adding that the case does not affect Raptor Lake and Raptor Lake Refresh, the company’s 13th and 14th generation chips.

In its statement, Intel said R2 “files serial lawsuits to extract large sums from innovators like Intel”.

It said R2 had first filed a suit against Intel in the US but after Intel “invalidated R2’s low-quality US patent”, R2 “shifted its campaign against Intel to Europe”.

“Intel believes companies like R2, which appears to be a shell company whose only business is litigation, should not be allowed to obtain injunctions on CPUs [central processing units] and other critical components at the expense of consumers, workers, national security and the economy,” Intel said.