Japanese Professor Sues Intel for Patent Infringement of Programmable Chips

Last Friday, Professor Masahiro Iida sued Intel Corporation for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,812,737 in connection with the defendant’s manufacture and sale of certain programmable logic devices. The filing claims that sales of the accused devices constitute at least 80%, by dollar volume, of the $1.934 billion the corresponding Intel business division earned in revenue in 2021.

The complaint explains that while Professor Iida was a postdoctoral student studying chip architecture in 2001, he discovered “a revolutionary way to flexibly configure large look up tables (LUTs), primitive logic elements used in programmable logic devices (such as FPGA chips), so that a single M-input N-output LUT can operate either as a single ‘whole’ LUT or as a plurality of ‘fractured’ LUTs.” Subsequently, he filed for patent protection first in Japan, then in the United States.

The ‘737 patent, entitled “programmable logic circuit device having look up table enabling to reduce implementation area,” was issued in 2004 and is set to expire this week, the complaint said. The plaintiff has been its sole owner since 2014.

The lawsuit explains that the defendant’s accused products are Intel programmable logic devices, specifically Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips and System-on-Chip (SoC) chips that employ Adaptive Logic Modules (ALMs). The complaint points to Intel’s acquisition of Altera in 2016, the latter of which began using ALMs into its programmable logic devices with the Stratix II line of FPGA chips in 2004.

With its acquisition of Altera, Intel continued its operations through the design and sale of ALM chips including the Stratix, Arria, and Cyclone product lines. According to the plaintiff, Intel has known about the ’737 patent and of Professor Iida’s specific claims since at least February 2018 when his counsel sent Intel a letter concerning possible infringement.

The complaint states two claims for relief, one for direct infringement and the second for indirect infringement of the asserted patent. The professor requests monetary damages greater than or equal to the reasonable royalty he would have received had Intel licensed his patent for use in the accused products.

The plaintiff is represented by Slavitt IP Law LLC, McGinnis & Lochridge LLP, and Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP.