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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Infineon guns for Atmel's microcontrollers - updated

Files US Patent Infringement Lawsuit over AVR chips

By Nick Flaherty

Infineon Technologies has filed a patent lawsuit against Atmel in the US over microcontrollers and touchscreen controllers.
Infineon says it is seeking damages for infringement of eleven of its US patents covering Atmel's AVR, XMEGA, and maXTouch controllers and related products used in automotive, industrial, and touch screen applications.

On Wed 13th April, Atmel said it had not yet reviewed the complaint in detail but intended to vigorously defend the allegations.
Infineon asserts that Atmel is infringing 11 Infineon patents. It is also seeking a declaration that three Atmel patents are either invalid or not infringed. Prior to the filing of this lawsuit, Atmel says it and Infineon were engaged in discussions to determine whether a licensing relationship between the companies was desirable, including whether Infineon required a license from Atmel for patents that Atmel believes Infineon may be infringing. During those negotiations, Atmel concluded that its products did not infringe any of the Infineon patents under discussion or that those patents were, in fact, invalid. In its complaint, Infineon identified five additional patents that it alleges Atmel has infringed, none of which the company has yet fully reviewed.
"With the tremendous success we have had in the microcontroller market over the past several years, this type of suit does not come as a surprise. We believe these allegations are baseless, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously. As part of this process, we will also now evaluate, more definitively, whether Infineon has infringed our intellectual property," said Scott Wornow, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.

The AVR family was originally based on an 8051 core developed at Nordic VLSI and launched in 1996 and so have been shipping for over 15 years, and Atmel has seen considerable success with its maXTouch touchscreen controllers. The 32bit variant, developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology was launched in 2006 and has been widely used in open source designs.

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