Japanese professor Masahiro Iida is suing Intel for patent infringement (U.S. Patent No. 6,812,737), as reported by Law Street Media. The legal paperwork indicts Intel of the manufacturing, utilization, and sales of the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and System-on-Chip (SoC) chips that currently employ Adaptive Logic Modules (ALM). This court case is essential as Iida held the patent for the designs from 2004 to 2014 until Intel purchased company Altera for $16.7 billion the following year.
Intel is under fire once again as a Japanese professor sues the company for products involving FPGAs and SoCs that the defendant created
In 2001, Iida was a doctoral student and had found a way to manipulate significant LUTs, or look up tables, so that individual M-input and N-output LUTs work together to create a single LUT or a group of "fractured" LUTs. With the concept that Iida created, the design has impacted the reduction of power consumption for chips and diminished the implementation area, making it a crucial part of today's designs by Intel.
The original patent was filed in foreign courts on June 29, 2001, while in the United States, it was filed on June 28, 2002. The United States Patent and Trademark Office, also known as the USPTO, then published the U.S. Patent No. 6,812,737, which was titled, "PROGRAMMABLE LOGIC CIRCUIT DEVICE HAVING TO LOOK UP TABLE ENABLING TO REDUCE IMPLEMENTATION AREA" on November 2, 2004, which Iida held until October 1, 2014.
The specific infringement that Iida is suing for is the Altera Stratix II FPGA chip series that used ALMs and launched in 2004. At the time, Altera and Xilinx were the two largest FPGA manufacturers. Then, Intel procured Altera in 2015, while AMD obtained Xilinix for $54 billion in 2022. Altera used the design in other products, including the Stratix III, Stratix IV, Stratix V, and Stratix 10 techniques. The company also utilized the FPGA chips in its Arria and Cyclone lines. Once Altera was purchased by Intel, the designs continued to be manufactured and sold using the same product names. Along with those designs, the previous Altera company's Agilex chips used ALMs.
Iida is suing that Intel greatly benefited from Altera's designs. As high as 80% of its annual revenue from Intel was solely from the FPGA and SoC designs that utilized ALMs. If Iida is successful in his filing, at least $11.5 billion in sales of those products over a six-year timeframe (2016 to 2022) is up for debate.
The professor sought legal counsel, who reached out in a certified letter to Intel's General Counsel, referencing the infringement on U.S. Patent No. 6,812,737. Currently, there is only one claim on the patent by Intel that is known, in that Intel furthered the sales of the FPGA chips in question without seeking a legal license from Professor Iida.
Professor Iida seeks financial compensation that would equal or surpass the royalties he would have received through the proper means. Additionally, the defendant requests that the appointed Court triple the amount found by the Court's ruling to cover attorney fees and the pursuant infringement fees.