Intel sued over lithography patent

STC, the non-profit arm of the University of New Mexico responsible for organising commercial exploitation of the university's research, has announced a lawsuit targeting Intel over disagreements surrounding a patent.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court of New Mexico, alleges that Intel is using STC's patented double-patterning lithographic technology in the production of small-process silicon without a licence, and seeks legal redress following the breakdown of negotiations between the two companies.

The patent, United States Patent No. 6.042.998 entitled 'Method and Apparatus for Extending Spatial Frequencies in Photolithography Images,' has already been licensed to Toshiba, NEC/Renesas, Samsung, Hynix, and TSMC, but Intel has decided it doesn't need a patent licence and, according to STC, is refusing to play ball with regards licensing.

Lisa Kuuttila, president of STC, explained that the lawsuit was a last-ditch attempt to force Intel to play fair: "while STC was reluctant to use the courts to enforce our patent rights, we have no other recourse given our duty to protect the intellectual property of our inventors and the University," she claimed in a statement.

Intel has not yet offered a statement regarding the suit, but if found guilty of infringement could find itself on the hook for not-inconsiderable sums - or even threatened with a ban on chip sales until it cooperates with STC.