Law Street Mediareports that Japanese professor Masahiro Iida has sued Intel for infringing on US Patent 6,812,737. The professor claims that his Adaptive Logic Modules (ALM) patent, which he held from 2004 to 2014, was used by Intel in the production of FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) and SoC (System-on-Chip).
As a PhD student in 2001, Iida discovered a method for structuring large lookup tables (LUTs). This discovery has reportedly helped to significantly reduce the application space and power consumption for chips that take advantage of the innovation. Iida applied for a patent on June 29, 2001, which was filed in the United States on June 28, 2002. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has officially issued patent number 737 for a “programmable logic circuit device that allows to reduce the field of application.”
Altera and Xilinx are the two big players in the FPGA market. Intel bought Altera for $16.7 billion in 2015. If you remember, AMD acquired Xilinx this year with a valuation of 54 billion dollars.
Iida’s complaint is about Altera’s Stratix II series FPGA chips, released in 2004 using ALMs. The company has leveraged ALMs in subsequent Stratix chips, including the Stratix III, Stratix IV, Stratix V, and Stratix 10, as well as several other Arria and Cyclone product lines. After the Altera acquisition, Intel continued to manufacture and commercialize the Stratix, Arria and Cyclone series. Additionally, the chipmaker’s Agilex chips also use ALMs.
According to the filing, Intel earned large sums from the sale of FPGAs and SoCs using ALMs. The lawsuit also calculates revenue from sales of at least $11.5 billion over the six-year period (from the third quarter of 2016 to 2022).
Professor Iida’s attorney sent a certified letter to Intel’s General Counsel regarding the ‘737 patents’ infringement. Despite the plaintiff’s notice, Intel continued to manufacture and sell the specified FPGA chips without a license from Iida. The Japanese professor is now seeking compensation to equal or exceed the royalties he should have.