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CEOs called to court in patent case

A long-standing spat over patent infringement spurs a judge to call Intel and Intergraph executives to court. Can they iron things out?

A federal court has asked the chief executive officers of Intergraph and Intel to appear in court in an effort to resolve the remaining issues in a patent infringement case.

The judge presiding over the Intergraph suit filed against Intel has ordered senior executives from the companies to appear at a mediation slated for Sept. 26, an Intel spokesman said. The judge has specifically requested that the CEOs of both companies attend in an effort to settle the matter.

"Someone senior will be there," an Intel spokesman said, although it is uncertain if CEO Craig Barrett will attend. Intergraph representatives could not be reached for comment. The case is being heard at the U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas.

Intergraph alleges that the intellectual property underlying Intel's Itanium processor infringes the company's patents. In , the two companies settled other patent disputes in the case, with Intel paying Intergraph $300 million.

Two patent claims remain. Although Intergraph and Intel have yet to settle on these remaining issues, they have agreed to a ceiling on damages. Intergraph can collect up to $150 million (on top of the $300 million it has already been awarded) if it wins at trial. If Intel appeals a verdict not in its favor and loses the appeal, it will pay Intergraph an additional $100 million.

Intergraph in the late 1980s and early 1990s manufactured a chip known as "Clipper" to power its workstations. In 1993, it scrapped the effort and switched to Intel chips. The company now focuses on services and software.

Intergraph originally filed suit in an Alabama federal court in November 1997, alleging Intel violated antitrust laws, infringed on Intergraph patents, and violated state laws.