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Intel scores a victory in TechSearch suit

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick grants Intel's summary judgment in the case, which alleges intellectual property infringement of some chip patents.

Intel has nabbed a tactical victory in a patent lawsuit, a ruling that could lead to a termination of the multimillion dollar claim.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick has granted Intel's summary judgment in TechSearch vs. Intel, which effectively has lead to a dismissal of the claim for now. Orrick also vacated a pre-trial conference, slated for January 11, and the start of the trial, which had been scheduled for January 24.

TechSearch, a Chicago-based intellectual property consulting group, filed the patent infringement suit against the chip giant in August 1998.

The claim revolved around patents TechSearch acquired from International Meta Systems (IMS). TechSearch alleged that some of the intellectual property underlying the Pentium Pro and Pentium II processors infringed upon patents issued to IMS. TechSearch attorney's estimated the damages at $500 million or higher.

Intel argued that its own patents were "prior art," or older than, the IMS patents. Orrick ruled in Intel's favor and dismissed the claim.

Still, despite the dismissal, the case may not be over. The judge has yet to release his final findings. As a result, it is unclear whether TechSearch will be able to amend its claims and revive the action fairly easily or whether it would have to resort to the more costly and time consuming route of filing an appeal.

An Intel spokesman stated that the scope of the ruling will be known when the judge issues a promised memorandum on the decision.