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Intel wins one, loses one on MMX

In two important trademark cases, Intel settles its suit with Cyrix but fails to obtain a restraining order against AMD over the use of "MMX."

In two important trademark cases, Intel (INTC) has settled its suit with Cyrix (CYRX) but has failed to obtain a court order stopping Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) from using "MMX" in its advertising and promotional materials.

MMX is a term applied to technology used on Intel, AMD, and Cyrix chips that boosts the performance of certain multimedia applications. Intel claims that it has trademarked MMX and that AMD and Cyrix must attribute the term to the company in advertising and promotional materials.

The Cyrix settlement enables the Richardson, Texas-based chip manufacturer "to use MMX with the appropriate attribution," Intel said. This applies not only to Cyrix but also to its customers.

But in the other case, Intel suffered a setback Tuesday when a federal judge denied its request for a temporary restraining order against AMD.

The ruling means that AMD "may continue to use the term in advertising and promotional materials describing its AMD-K6 MMX processor," the company said in a statement.

AMD will formally introduce the AMD-K6 processor on Wednesday, which will compete with Intel's Pentium and Pentium II processors.

"We are delighted at the court's ruling," said Thomas McCoy, AMD vice president and general counsel. "We believe the term MMX belongs to the public domain and that it is commonly understood to be a shorthand reference to 'multimedia extensions.'"

However, at a hearing scheduled for April 29, the judge will "hear the matter in its entirety regarding a separate request for a temporary injunction," an Intel legal representative said.

"They're [AMD] advertising MMX much more than we expected," said Pete Detkin, director of litigation at Intel, referring to Intel's intention to continue to aggressively contest the issue April 29.

A temporary injunction hearing involves more evidence and can have a longer lasting impact than a temporary restraining order. The latter is based on limited evidence and used only in emergencies, Detkin said.