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Via fires back at Intel, readies new chip

Via Technologies strikes back at the chip giant in one of the many lawsuits between the two companies as the Taiwanese chipset maker readies the release of its first microprocessor.

Via Technologies fired back at Intel in one of the many lawsuits between the two companies as the Taiwanese chipset maker prepares the release of its first microprocessor.

Via this week said it disputes Intel's claim that it has violated the chip giant's intellectual property and said that it plans to contest the suit. The challenge was filed in a London court.

"We are going to vigorously fight the court actions that Intel has brought against Via," said Richard Brown, director of marketing for the company. "We strongly believe that the patent infringement claims they have made against us are totally without merit."

The U.K. lawsuit is one of many pending legal actions between the companies. Intel has filed suits in the United States, Singapore and the U.K. against Via, as well as against computer companies that are strongly associated with Via. Intel has also filed a petition with the Department of Commerce to bar Via from exporting its Intel-compatible chipsets into the United States.

All of the suits relate to a licensing agreement signed in late 1998 that would have allowed Via to make Intel-compatible chipsets. Chipsets serve as the main conduit between the processor and the rest of the computer. Via was one of Intel's first chipset licensees, but the deal had soured by the spring of 1999.

Chipsets, however, aren't soon going to be the only point of contention between the two companies. On Tuesday, Via will introduce its low-cost Joshua processor in San Jose, Calif. The chip will provide performance that is equivalent to Celeron processors running at 433 MHz, 466 MHz and 500 MHz, according to Via. The chips, however, will run at speeds slower than those figures.

The Joshua processor is largely based around a chip design that Via picked up when it purchased the Cyrix microprocessor subdivision from National Semiconductor last year. National sold the division, it said, because of recurring financial losses caused by price declines in the microprocessor market.