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Venture firm picks up Transmeta chip patents

Intellectual Ventures has acquired the patent portfolio of Transmeta, formerly a supplier of Intel-compatible x86 processors.

Updated at 10:45 p.m. PST with additional information about Intellectual Ventures

Intellectual Ventures has acquired the patent portfolio of Transmeta, an erstwhile supplier of low-power Intel-compatible x86 processors.

Intellectual Venture Funding, an affiliate of Intellectual Ventures, has picked up 140 U.S. patents and additional pending patent applications owned by Transmeta, which was acquired by privately held Novafora in November of last year.

The Transmeta technology will be used "through two distinct routes," according to an Intellectual Ventures' statement. Novafora will improve its own proprietary designs by using some of the technologies invented by Transmeta. And Intellectual Ventures will provide other companies with access to Transmeta's former patent rights under non-exclusive licensing terms.

The portfolio contains many patents issued in the last few years and has generated, in total, approximately $300 million in revenue, the firm said.

Transmeta's claim to fame as a low-power x86-compatible chip supplier was transitory, and in 2007, about seven years after the company formed, it restructured and ceased being a chipmaker. It reorganized as a Rambus-like IP (intellectual property) company that sues other companies for patent infringement. Transmeta's technology is centered on "code morphing" techniques and very long instruction word (VLIW) design architecture.

"These (patent) additions cover inventions in high-performance, low-power, and embedded processors," Paul Reidy, vice president of semiconductor licensing at Intellectual Ventures, said in a statement.

Intellectual Ventures was founded by Nathan Myhrvold after he retired from his position as chief strategist and chief technology officer of Microsoft.