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Intel Patents Hardware

Intel Sued Over Core 2 Duo Patent Infringement 216

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the patents-are-such-a-mess dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Intel is being sued over a patent infringement alleged to be in the Core 2 Duo microprocessor design. 'The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is charging Intel Corporation with patent infringement of a University of Wisconsin-Madison invention that significantly improves the efficiency and speed of computer processing. The foundation's complaint identifies the Intel CoreTM 2 Duo microarchitecture as infringing WARF's United States Patent No. 5,781,752, entitled "Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer." WARF contacted Intel in 2001, and made repeated attempts, including meeting face-to-face with company representatives, to offer legal licensing opportunities for the technology.' The text of the complaint [PDF] is also available via WARF's site."
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Intel Sued Over Core 2 Duo Patent Infringement

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  • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:06PM (#22353998)
    I feel strangely compelled to say: "Captain, I protest! I am not a merry man!"
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdigriz (676802) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:06PM (#22354000)
    What has the Son of Mog done this time?
  • Not a Troll then? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:09PM (#22354052) Homepage
    I have been slashdot conditioned to think that every patent suit is a patent troll trying to collect on obvious ideas from big companies. But from the background on the story, it would seem that this is not the case and that it has been on-going since 2001. That's a very long time to mess around before resorting to a law suit. How long does a patent last?
    • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:14PM (#22354114) Homepage

      "We are disappointed with Intel's lack of response in resolving this matter, and while we were not anxious 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."
      It also says that the patent was granted in '98, so I think they (WARF) were being pretty fair about things thus far.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        assuming they actually have a leg to stand on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iamhassi (659463)
        "It also says that the patent was granted in '98, so I think they (WARF) were being pretty fair about things thus far."

        And let's not forget it's extremely expensive to file lawsuits. If anything it's in the best interest of the patent holder to come to some agreement rather than go to court. Sure they'll get their court costs back if they win, but who can afford to drop tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a few years?

        Trust me, unless they're incredibly wealthy no one wants to go to court
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eabrek (880144)
        How fair is it to demand money for something you didn't contribute to?

        Disclaimer: I used to work for Intel, and I'm familiar with a lot of the CS/CA people at Madison. I also own Intel stock, and am not looking forward to another $500 million payout to lawyers.

        The memory disambiguation table is a variant on a branch predictor (I'm not going to give the exact Intel algorithm). It's obvious. The only reason no one has done it before is that the benefits didn't outweigh the implementation (and especially, v
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gnasher719 (869701)

          The memory disambiguation table is a variant on a branch predictor (I'm not going to give the exact Intel algorithm). It's obvious. The only reason no one has done it before is that the benefits didn't outweigh the implementation (and especially, validation) costs. Core 2 is a big enough machine that it's worthwhile.

          Here is how I understand what Intel does from the publicly available description: The processor often encounters load instructions, where the memory in question may or may not have been modified by a previous write instruction. (The "may or may not" case happens when a previous store instruction has not finished calculating its address yet. The case that the processor _knows_ the data has been modified is something entirely different). This situation happens quite often, and quite often the store instructi

    • by paitre (32242)
      17-20 years from time of issuance, IIRC.

      This is, of course, why software patents are bad - they're usually obviated in fewer than 5.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Otter (3800)
      It's probably not a good idea to generalize about any subject from stories that get posted here, but while WARF is certainly not a "patent troll" by the proper definition of the term, they are extremely aggressive about broadly enforcing their stem cell patents, and it wouldn't surprise me if this is more of the same.

      Actually, I'm curious why the only two coherent posts at the time of this writing are jumping to the defense of this patent; one of them noting that he hasn't read the link but that nonetheless

      • I am against universities holding patents period. How much of that patent was obtained using public funds? How much should go back to the public when the settlement comes in? How much of their licensing fees they gain from other patents are returned to the public from which it came?

        Universities have seen the patent system as the cash cow it is and haven't thought this through.
        • by pembo13 (770295) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:54PM (#22354672) Homepage
          To be fair, I think universities should be granted patents, if only to look good on walls and recognize commitments. But they should be made publicly available if the university benefits from public funds. Especially in this case, where the idea seems novel, and non obvious.
          • by DrDitto (962751)
            The problem is that computer architecture research funding is drying up. DARPA no long funds it. NSF funding is there, but sparse. Intel makes lots of money off of university innovations and they could help out a little more.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vic-traill (1038742)

            But they should be made publicly available if the university benefits from public funds

            Not trolling, but definitely playing Devil's Advocate here: so what if a university benefits from public funds? Don't many privately held corporations benefit from public funds (from infrastructure - roads - to services, to selling product that is paid for in 'public funds')?

            My point is that the idea of 'benefiting from public funds' is a slippery one, and that segmenting patent applicability by some measure of the use of public funds in developing a patent is a complex issue.

            And I'm not expressing s

        • by duplicate-nickname (87112) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:00PM (#22354744) Homepage
          How much is returned to the public? WARF has put almost $1 billion back into research at the University ($50 million last year) and supported 1500 seperate research projects last year. Not to mention that there are 1000's of people employeed around the state in the private sector at small biotech companies and other firms developing products off of WARF licensed technologies.
          • by Ced_Ex (789138)

            How much is returned to the public? WARF has put almost $1 billion back into research at the University ($50 million last year) and supported 1500 seperate research projects last year. Not to mention that there are 1000's of people employeed around the state in the private sector at small biotech companies and other firms developing products off of WARF licensed technologies.

            Though, my question is, of those 1500 research projects, how many of them came to a new radical conclusion, or provided information that is useful?

            When I was doing research, I remember only a very small percentage of research actually provided something useful. Most research proved nothing, or just confirmed what we already knew. This research however was in medical sciences, so I'm not sure exactly how much can translate to engineering type research, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were similar.

            • by Noren (605012)
              Well, there was a research project they funded in the area of parallel computing back in 1998 that provided Intel with some useful information, and led to more efficient parallel computers. I think I read an article about that somewhere, but you might not have heard of it.
        • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:02PM (#22354772) Homepage
          I work at a university and from what I understand most of the patents/patent research is not done with public money - most research money is private. At least in my department and related departments. Actually about 90% of our department's entire funding is from private research money.
          • That means your university has been corrupted to the point that you can't even recognize that it was once intended to be a public institution. It has been so polluted with private money, and has so normalized its operations to depend on that private money, that it is unfit to serve the purpose for which it was created. It's just a means of generating more scarcity and leverage now.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Mister Whirly (964219)
              Or it means the university doesn't want to listen to people bitch about spending public money on things they don't support. Yeah, the university that is self-sufficient on private funds instead of wasting public money is certainly "corrupted". The purpose of the university is education and companies funding research privately is providing just that. Research money is soley used for, wait for it - research. The university is not "dependent" on this money for normal operation. If they don't get private resear
            • Much research rely on private funding and venture capitalism. Even if an institute resides on University grounds that doesn't mean that it funds the research going on there. Institutes take the money where they can get it. An institute I worked at received large donations from IBM in exchange for research data.

              There's just not enough public funding to go around. If you'd worked at a University, you would know this. In no way does this mean that the University has become "corrupted".
              • Much research rely on private funding and venture capitalism. Even if an institute resides on University grounds that doesn't mean that it funds the research going on there. Institutes take the money where they can get it. An institute I worked at received large donations from IBM in exchange for research data. There's just not enough public funding to go around. If you'd worked at a University, you would know this. In no way does this mean that the University has become "corrupted".

                It means that the soc
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by eggnoglatte (1047660)
              Every so often I stumble across a post on slashdot that is so bizarre that I have to wonder what planet the poster is living on. The parent is one of those cases.

              I have a faculty position at a public university, and believe me: you do NOT want to pay the taxes you'd have to pay if all my research activities (and those of my colleagues) were publically funded. So it is either private funds or reduced research activities. Guess which one is better for society?

              There is a role for both public and private fundin
          • Intel won't be "ass-ailed" for misusing public caughers, but it might be publicly assailed for abusing private patents...Wait...This might prove to be QUITE a "blast from the past" upon Intel?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by reebmmm (939463)
          First, federal law requires that inventions made with federal funds must either be commercialized by the inventing institution or given up to the government (the gov't can then decide not to take title and title reverts to the inventor). It's called Bayh-Dole. Allowing title to revert to the government or the inventor is not particularly good results. Well funded tech transfer offices are much better at getting technology to licensees than either the federal government or the inventor. Besides, the federal
        • I know that at my university, and it seemed many similar universities, a huge draw for getting the best and brightest individuals around into the doctoral program is that if you invent something, you can actually make money on it. For instance, at MIT, one third of the proceeds of any patents go directly to the inventors, one third goes to fund the lab that they work in, and one third goes to MIT. This makes it massively more attractive for inventors such as myself to come here. It is true that my work is f

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:19PM (#22354180) Journal
      Well, I've noticed that when it's an educational institution, then it's not a troll. Filed by a lawyer in Marshall, Texas means troll for sure though. These rules are weird. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

      Although, you should note that a couple decades ago, universities were not well funded so some senators passed a bill that would allow them to keep patents. Why not, they do the research? Today, universities are still building those portfolios [uspto.gov]. So the joke is kind of on the companies. If they were smart, they should have been dumping millions into universities in the form of donations to keep patents in the corporate sector.

      You can bet that as you start to see what was once cutting edge theory be implemented the universities will have the last laugh and hopefully the most cash. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing it any other way but I'm still paying off my college loans. It would make me a happy man to see an HD DVD/Blu Ray player cost $100 more while poor people can go to college for virtually free. But I think a lot of people would call me some sort of communist for that and that I'd be stagnating the economy or some such theory that I can't comprehend. Regardless, I'd be willing to buy shares in certain universities if I could. Imagine what those portfolios are going to start to bring in in revenue!
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        It would make me a happy man to see an HD DVD/Blu Ray player cost $100 more while poor people can go to college for virtually free.
        "Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too."

        Actually, I don't think education can be a bad thing. Indoctrination, on the other hand...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evanbd (210358)

        Just because it's not a troll doesn't mean it's a good patent. It may be that the solution is obvious to one "skilled in the art" even though no one seriously considered the problem before. Just because the university thought of it first doesn't mean it's a good patent.

        Of course, I haven't looked at the details of the patent or the case. It may well be a blatant attempt by Intel to rip off a clever idea from the university. My guess is that reality is somewhere in between...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        The way I see it, if you offer to license a technology and then five years later, the company starts using that technology in a new design without licensing it, chances are, the person who holds the patent is not a patent troll. Patent trolls patent something obvious, wait in silence for somebody to do what is covered by their patent, then offer to license and/or sue. If they're offering to license it before the company they're trying to license it to thinks of the idea, unless the idea is fairly trivial,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Penguinisto (415985)

        W You can bet that as you start to see what was once cutting edge theory be implemented the universities will have the last laugh and hopefully the most cash. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing it any other way but I'm still paying off my college loans. It would make me a happy man to see an HD DVD/Blu Ray player cost $100 more while poor people can go to college for virtually free.

        As someone who once was a collegiate instructor and employee, I can say for certain that no self-respecting board-of-regents-member college would even think of lowering tuition, for any reason. Scholarships, sure... as long as the money comes out of somebody else's wallet. Student financial aid? Again, they love it - but on the same premise as Scholarships. Work-Study programs? Okay, but it's the equivalent of getting offshore-priced labor on their part.

        No, my friend... no way in Hell you'd ever see a

      • by arcanelogic (1235884) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:44PM (#22354510)
        I happen to recognize two of the patent owners: Andreas Moshovos and Gurindar Sohi. Guri in particular is an established member of the Computer Architecture research community. He's worked on many different aspects of speculation in hardware. The claim in the patent infringement is that the work on "Table-based Speculation.." was presented at Intel and attempts were made by the authors to negotiate a license for the technology. It wouldn't surprise me if there's some merit to this claim.
        • I hope you get modded up, this is a very important point to note. Established researchers in the field, presented their work at Intel, definitely sounds like there is some merit to the claim.
          • by geekoid (135745)
            Clearly Intel disagrees.

            Intel is also full of Smart people established in their field.

            Plus, argument from authority is a logical fallacy.
            • by spun (1352)
              What argument from authority? I don't think you understand that fallacy. Argument from authority is when you say, "X, an expert says Y. Therefore, Y is true," I was saying these guys are experts, therefore, they are more likely to have invented something non obvious. The fact that they presented their inventions to Intel means that Intel had the opportunity to use their discoveries. Neither I, nor the post I was responding to makes any definite claims. That post was making inferences about the likelihood of
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rbmyers (587296)
        It would take a whole lot more than reading that patent, and a whole lot more than reading Hennessey and Patterson, to know if Wisconsin had something it could collect on. That is to say, you'd have to know a detailed history of work in the field. That would mean being familiar with dozens of IEEE and ACM journal articles, something a patent examiner in Washington would never have time to do. That is to say, aggressive schemes for instruction parallelism is a huge body of work, and the patentability of t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bmajik (96670)

        It would make me a happy man to see an HD DVD/Blu Ray player cost $100 more while poor people can go to college for virtually free. But I think a lot of people would call me some sort of communist for that and that I'd be stagnating the economy or some such theory that I can't comprehend.

        Well, yeah, the way this is normally discussed, the conversation usually turns towards someones irrational communist leanings about how "some people" should pay for "everybody else" to go to college. Nevermind that not eve

      • by davidsyes (765062) *
        Well, I won't be one of those angling to call you a communist. I, too, would rather see school free if it meant the DVD players and other electronics cost 10-40% more.

        But, a corollary I can imagine is that if corporations fund schools, they'll nag the government/s for major tax breaks. Then, they'll offer lower salaries "since your school was free for you...", and then government might find some weasel means to increase public taxes to make up for the taxes major corporations excused themselves from by thre
      • Filed by a lawyer in Marshall, Texas means troll for sure though.

        It means the lawyer is of average or better intelligence. The Eastern District of Texas has swiftly built a reputation for being friendly to patent holders. It also has a rep for getting a large number of patent decisions overturned on appeal. But if you're a patent holder and you want the best chance of winning, you angle for E.D. Texas.

        If you held a patent, would you *not* try to file in a district that is generally favorable to patent

    • by canuck57 (662392)

      Not every patent is a troll. And I have no clue if this one is or not.

      But when I saw this the thought came to me. The very same companies that support the patent system and produce a product are going to get sued out of existence. Or end up raising the costs of their products. An example, say $100 for the processor, and $60 for lawyers and $50 for patent charges, total $210 per processor.

      Now what is going to happen is the Intel's and the Microsoft companies are going to realize all a long, /.ers are r

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      FTFA:

      The technology, patented in 1998, was developed by four researchers at the UW-Madison, including Professor Gurindar Sohi, currently the chair of the university's Computer Science Department.

      Personally I think the nice people at WARF can go fuck themselves. That technology was developed with public funds and/or tax deductible donations to an educational institution and in my opinion the patent should belong to the people of the USA, because otherwise you provide too much economic incentive for the s

  • I haven't read the article, and doubt I would have any chance of understanding the details of the patent, but from the summary it sounds like this patent might actually be a reasonable one: it's a particular method for increasing speed in a particular part of a processor, not "a patent on speeding up computers".

    For once, might the patent system actually be doing what it's supposed to?

    Dan Aris

    • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:14PM (#22354108)
      "For once, might the patent system actually be doing what it's supposed to?"

      Clearly not, if these people had to fight Intel for 7 years and still haven't gotten a cent for licensing.
    • I haven't RTF yet, but I think you are right, this one might very well be legit.

      Just the fact that this is about the microprocessor design and not about software makes it sound much more sensible than much of the other patent crap that is coming up here on /.
      • by jandrese (485)
        Well, a lot of the software patents are obvious because a lot of Slashdotters work with software and can tell on the face of something if its something you would have come up with in 5 minutes given the same problem. I doubt there are quite as many chip microcode developers on Slashdot.

        That said, the description is kind of vague. Does it mean creating a table of opcodes and doing branch prediction based on the table? If so that would probably be patent troll area. My guess is that it's something far m
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:14PM (#22354118)
    I read the complaint, and went through the patent. I didn't see any circuit diagrams, just some flowcharts and a lot of descriptions of them. It seems to me there's a vast difference between patenting a flowchart and building a circuit in silicon - but that's just me. I'm gonna chalk this up as a patent troll on an idea - not an invention.
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:22PM (#22354214)

      I read the complaint, and went through the patent. I didn't see any circuit diagrams, just some flowcharts and a lot of descriptions of them. It seems to me there's a vast difference between patenting a flowchart and building a circuit in silicon - but that's just me.
      Well, you see, the lawsuit is against an Intel executive's Powerpoint presentation covering the Core 2 Duo - not the actual chip design.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by bunratty (545641) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:23PM (#22354220)
      An idea can be an invention. An invention is an object, process, or technique which displays an element of novelty. [wikipedia.org] This looks like a technique for building faster processors, and thus is an invention. It also looks like it is far from obvious, and took considerable research to invent. Those researchers made money, so why not let them license their technology to other companies so they can make money to do more research?
      • By that definition, the 101 sexual positions in the Kama Sutra are inventions, and thereby patentable...

         
        • Only a 101? Amateurs, I should write a book then with every possible position then ;)
        • by Surt (22457)
          There would have been prior art for those. However, had any of the ideas been novel at the time, then sure, allow a patent.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

        by kent.dickey (685796) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:28PM (#22355028)
        I only briefly read the patent (due to triple damages for knowingly infringing a patent, it's best to not read any patents ever), and although it's not a typical troll, it has the problem of most patents--it's not that special of an idea.

        I worked with the HP PA8000 processor since around 1994. It was an out-of-order CPU, meaning it would execute past cache misses or other long delays to find future instructions which it could do now to save time later. The big win for out-of-order is that it can start cache misses for future work early, acting as a prefetch to bring data into the cache.

        Unfortunately, sometimes bad speculation can cause a loop of instructions to result in future instructions causing misses that won't be needed, or other bad effects like starting a divide, and blocking the divide unit for a long time for a divide that won't be used. Recovering from this bad speculation takes time and so it's a performance loss. These are second-order effects--the out-of-order is a big enough win that it almost always outweighs any drawbacks.

        All current major CPU designs use out-of-order execution, so everyone's aware of these issues now. I remember at the time looking at a bus trace of some code running on the PA8000 and remarking to the CPU designers at HP that they could improve performance by trying to avoid mis-speculating over and over. At that time, it wasn't worth the silicon space to try to fix it. I'm saying this to show it's obvious speculation can cause some performance issues.

        And this is the problem with patents--technology changed so that now it's worth it to spend silicon to fix this problem, to eek out another 1-2% performance. And once it's been decided to fix it, there are some obvious ideas. Like modify the branch prediction hardware to add some state to track that a branch is not being predicted well, to tone down execution after that branch. Or doing whatever it is this patent says to do.

        But since academic research often doesn't concern itself with practicalities as silicon real estate, it doesn't surprise me that some university has looked into this problem before Intel. And patents are a way to show you're doing research. However, ask 10 CPU designers how to fix bad speculation, and I would be surprised if several of them didn't give an idea that would infringe on this patent. So is the patent really novel or non-obvious? (I'm aware of the legal definition of obvious, which almost always makes any patent legally non-obvious).

        However, I don't necessarily have much sympathy for Intel since they use patents to bar competitors from directly interfacing with their chips. If you control a bus specification, you can add an oddball design quirk, patent it, and thereby block competitors from using your bus. I tried to find the patent for "Intel burst order", but couldn't find it in a few minutes of trying.

        Intel is probably a good target to sue for patent infringement because they rely on patents and so are less likely to want to set any precedents weakening their own patents. Generally, they go for cross-licensing, which won't make much sense in this case, though.

        • by treeves (963993)
          I'm curious. How can it be proven that you read something, without, for example, a signed declaration that you read it, as in the case of a contract?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kent.dickey (685796)
            Assuming this is an honest question, when placed under oath, you are supposed to tell the truth, not just what you know the other lawyers can prove.

            If someone believes otherwise, you probably already know which technology companies you'd feel right at home at.

            A more funny response would be to pick up a phone and over the dialtone shout and ask the NSA for my web browsing history. I didn't just give that answer since I'm annoyed at how many people seem to think lying and cheating are OK.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      Maybe it's not a patent of a low-level piece of hardware? Hardware development these days happens a lot in high-level languages, just like other programming so a low-level implementation may not be of any real use, depending on how high-level this optimization is. In other words, it's like demanding a binary (or assembly code) for an algorithm, not gonna be pretty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stevesliva (648202)

      I didn't see any circuit diagrams, just some flowcharts and a lot of descriptions of them. It seems to me there's a vast difference between patenting a flowchart and building a circuit in silicon

      The invention is the idea, so a flowchart works. The requirement is that you've "reduced the idea to practice." So in this case a logic circuit simulation (not hardware) or more abstract behavioral simulation would be sufficient.

      So basically to patent an idea, you should demonstrate that it will work, not

  • 'The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is charging Intel Corporation with patent infringement
    I KNEW we couldn't trust the Klingon!
    • by jd (1658)
      Sigh. The Klingons run AMD, the Romulins run Intel. That is obvious to anyone who has worked at Intel. So it makes perfect sense for the Klingons to launch an attack on a Romulin convoy in the Legalis Patentus system.
  • Intel is like, "No I will not make out with you! Did ya hear that? WARF wants to make out with me in the middle of a die shrink. You got Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer Man up there talking about God knows what and all WARF can talk about is making out with me. I'm here to make Core 2 Duos, everybody, not to make out with you. Go on with the patent."
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:18PM (#22354166)
    Whoever says that Klingons can't resolve things in a civilized manner are clearly wrong.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:19PM (#22354182) Homepage
    WARF is old and famous, one of the very first attempts to fund university research by patenting and commercializing research.

    It was founded in the 1920s by a professor who invented the process for putting vitamin D in milk.

    I believe they also had the patent for homogenizing milk (do you see a pattern here?)

    And then, of course, there is WARFarin, the trade name for the anti-coagulation agent dicoumadin, which was discovered when a distressed farmer showed up at the University of Wisconsin's ag school with a bucket of blood from a dead heifer (the pattern continues) and wanted to know what had happened.

  • then the design belongs to the taxpayers...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Pretty much, and that's why WARF is a non-profit, and any profits they get from patents they license are sent right back to the university for more research.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        Pretty much, and that's why WARF is a non-profit, and any profits they get from patents they license are sent right back to the university for more research.

        The FUN thing about non-profits however is that the people who administer the non-profit ARE entitled to draw a salary for running the thing. After all fair is fair, right?

        if(income > cost){
        salary = income - cost;
        profit =
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The FUN thing about non-profits however is that the people who administer the non-profit ARE entitled to draw a salary for running the thing. After all fair is fair, right?

          That's why a board of directors controls salaries for the executive employees of the non-profit organization. In principle, they provide oversight and make sure the executives aren't drawing excessive salaries from the organization's revenues. But in practice there's always the chance for corruption or conflict of interest [bizjournals.com].

    • by Cheapy (809643)
      I believe the purpose of university patents is so that the public doesn't have to pay lots of money for the universities. If they can make some money for themselves, they don't have to have the people pay for them.
  • I don't know. The University of Wisconsin doesn't have the resources to manufacture microprocessors, but does Intel not have the capability of solving the associated problems independently? Are the issues at stake in the patent non-obvious to a highly skilled microprocessor designer? The only thing certain at this point is that some lawyers on both sides are going to enjoy a good payday. I suppose Intel could afford to just pay them off.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pojodojo (930080)
      I don't think that just because UW doesn't have a manufacturing plant set up means they are not able to hold a patent for microprocessors. There are numerous people at the University, some who I have been instructed by (being a student) whom have held numerous industry positions including microprocessor architects, most of whom have become bored of the industry and gone into research. Which is where these patents come from...
    • by reebmmm (939463)
      Your questions don't t square with the story that's been told so far.

      You have a professor who is a well respected in the area of computer architecture disclosing details of this idea to Intel many years before Intel actually started using the technology. You have an institution that attempted to license those rights before Intel started using the technology, but whose attempts were thwarted. That same institution's attempts to negotiate a license were again thwarted less than 5 years after Intel start produ
  • by Pojodojo (930080) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:36PM (#22354412)
    I am a student at the University of Wisconsin, and also happen to work in WARF.(we call the building that the foundation is in WARF as well) The Foundation was set up to protect the discoveries of the university, and has paid for itself many times over, as some of the largest medical patents are held by them. There are also an innumerable amount of Stem Cell patents held by them which in the near future will prove to make a large amount of money. Being a Comp Sci student, I also have heard from some of my professors about issues with companies such as IBM and Intel, whom they have been in contact with, and cannot describe to us lowly students the details of their dealings. However they are definitely not patent trolls. I feel this will make things a little more interesting around the University though, to the point where we can see the true purpose of WARF and how it benefits the University. Bring on a new Comp Sci building!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by guacamole (24270)
      Quite honestly, I hope that someday a law will get passed that bans universities from patenting the products of their research. The idea that the universities use mostly public money or private donations for their research and then patent results and sell them to businesses who essentially create mini-monopolies based on those patents is simply outrageous (remember RSA?). We fund the universities so that they would create and share new knowledge for the public good. Patenting the products of university rese
      • by reebmmm (939463) on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:35PM (#22356258)

        Quite honestly, I hope that someday a law will get passed that bans universities from patenting the products of their research.
        Except for the fact that current federal law actually makes it a point to force universities to get patent protection or lose those rights to the federal government. It's called Bayh-Dole [wikipedia.org].

        And contrary to your assertions, the whole point is that by giving the universities the right to acquire title to the invention and then imposing commercialization obligations upon them means more of the inventions actually will get to market. Now its true, it some cases this probably doesn't work, for example, a blockbuster technology that everyone would adopt. But that's not most technology. Indeed, doing something that everyone else can do is not usually very profitable.

        The reason the patent is a good tool for this is actually a result of the market. Most companies want patent protection because it gives them an advantage in the marketplace. So by allowing universities to patent those inventions, they have a tool to license the technology in order to commercialize it--basically giving the licensing company an extra incentive to actually exploit the technology.

        As a significant note, you can read about how infrequently technology was commercialized prior to Bayh-Dole. The numbers are quite staggering. Most "inventions" were never licensed. The federal government retained title to all of its funded inventions, and very little commercialization was done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DRJlaw (946416)
        In that case, it's unfortunate for you that the U.S. government passed a law [wikipedia.org] that encouraged universities to patent the products of their research.

        Imagine the gall. A university conducts research that results a useful, novel, and hopefully non-obvious technology, and they have the nerve to patent that technology. Then they have the nerve to ask for licensing revenue, and use the revenue to fund the university so that it can educate more students, and conduct more research, and maintain its facilities. Of
  • Not first time (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Intel did the same thing back when they were developing Pentium. Intel reviewed the architecture and design of DEC's Alpha chip which they decided not to license it eventually. Later on, Intel surprised industry with huge performance gain from 486 to Pentium chip. One of the executives of Intel mentioned that they used features from mainframe to improve the performance of Pentium. The comment sounded fishy to DEC and when they looked at Pentium, and they found out that Intel copied some of the design from A
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:53PM (#22354658)
    I always suspected modern computers were well beyond the ability of human invention.
  • IBM (http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=2201 [wistechnology.com]) and Sony (http://www.news.com/2100-1043_3-5097776.html [news.com]) have also faced the wrath of WARF. Both were settled out of court for a pretty significant chunk of change. Luckily, most of that money goes back to University research and the inventors...
    • by earlymon (1116185)

      Luckily, most of that money goes back to University research and the inventors...

      I was ok or had mixed feelings (tending to ok) on the whole issue of universities owning patents and being afforded all rights thereto, until I read your comment.

      Now, the hair on the back of my neck is up.

      Is it just me, or isn't it true that virtually all out-of-court settlements are kept private?

      I do not live in a world where I trust any university to receive sums from corporations with totals to be kept secrect, and be confident of where the money went.

      Hail, hail our alma maters and all that - but I bet

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dontthink (1106407)
        I've submitted a patent with WARF (ultimately declined), so I'm familiar with the institution. I know a number of researchers who hold patents through WARF, and I've really heard nothing but good things. I know you asked me not to do research, but I knew the following when I originally posted from my dealing with them, and just looked up the reference for legitimacy.

        From http://www.warf.org/inventors/index.jsp?cid=7 [warf.org]

        Inventors' Share
        The inventors receive 20 percent of the gross royalty revenue generated by

  • I skimmed the complaint, and was reminded of some bragging Intel did about improved dependency disambiguation in the Core microarchitecture that allowed them to expand from 3 pipelines to 4 pipelines and shorten the pipelines substantially, which gave a major performance boost over the Netburst microarchitecture. That could explain why this is going to court only now. The discussion probably didn't become adversarial until Intel started selling allegedly-infringing processors to the public, even though th
  • ...then I want my taxes (not to mention tuition) back.

    Or atleast the part of my taxes that went to the university (in my case Maryland and Hopkins).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ChrisMaple (607946)

      ...then I want my taxes (not to mention tuition) back.
      The university would want the education back, but you didn't get what you paid for.

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