31 Aug WARF settles patent dispute with IBM
Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has reached an out-of-court settlement with the information technology firm IBM over charges of patent infringement, it reported on Tuesday.
WARF accused IBM of infringing on patented technology by marketing and selling two types of copper-based computer chips that are based on WARF’s technology. A trial was scheduled for December prior to the settlement.
“Both sides are happy with the agreement,” WARF spokesperson Andrew Cohn told news services. WARF declined to offer exact details about the settlement due to confidentiality agreements.
The patented technology was developed in 1986 by University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor John Wiley and engineering professor John Perepezko. In response to the increase in copper use for electronics, they devised a metal barrier for computer chips that would keep the copper from getting into the silicon that stored data, stopping them from overheating or malfunctioning.
IBM used the technology in its computer chip development – including the 1998 copper-based microprocessor PowerPC750 – claiming it would speed up computers and could be applied to printers and digital cameras.
This lawsuit is one of many filed by WARF for more than two years as part of its legal campaign to obtain royalties on product sales which use the technology. Wiley estimated the patent has brought in at least $25 million in revenue.
To date, the foundation has filed suit against the German firm Infineon on a chip used in wireless mobile phones and data modems, Samsung over chips in cell phones and DVD players and Sony for the main chip in the PlayStation 2. Each of those companies has agreed to settle with WARF out of court.
The foundation continues to negotiate a settlement with Cypress Semiconductor Corp. of San Jose, Calif., Cohn said.
“WARF protects its patents – that’s part of the service we provide to the University of Wisconsin,” Cohn said. “If we find people are using our technology without a license, we will make sure they get one.”