AMD deal triggers Intel license warning

A new chip manufacturing venture for AMD is being questioned by its chief rival, which says it has concerns about cross-licensing.

Update on October 9 at 9:00 a.m. with additional comments from Intel and AMD.

Advanced Micro Device's new manufacturing venture may come with some old baggage.

After AMD announced on Tuesday that it would spin off its manufacturing assets to a new company partially owned by the Abu Dhabi government, Intel was quick to warn AMD about patent and cross-licensing concerns.

AMD will own part of the new manufacturing entity, for the time being to be called The Foundry Company, while Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) will own the rest (55.6 percent) and have equal voting rights with AMD in The Foundry Company. The total investment is expected to come to approximately $8 billion.

Intel-AMD disputes are certainly not new. AMD sued Intel in 2005 alleging antitrust violations. But this time Intel has AMD in its sights.

At the moment, Intel is simply expressing concern about the deal, per the Patent Cross License Agreement between the two companies. (The two chipmakers have cross-licensing agreements that go back to 1976.)

The Agreement, which was signed in 2001 and expires in 2010, has restrictions related to the transfer of licenses and patents.

"We don't know enough yet. We have a lot of questions about how this deal is structured," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

"According to the public statements they made in their press releases, they (ATIC) also have 50 percent voting rights. So we need to understand a lot more about it. We just have to do due diligence. Make sure that our IP (intellectual property) rights are protected."

AMD, for its part, believes the transaction is structured in a way that doesn't violate any agreements. "We are completely confident the structure of this transaction takes into account our cross-license agreements. Rest assured, we plan to continue respecting Intel's intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours," said AMD spokesman Drew Prairie.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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