Bell Semiconductors filed three lawsuits in the District of Massachusetts, accusing the defendants of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,231,626, which relates to circuit design technologies. According to Bell, semiconductor design traditionally took place in a set of progressive steps, whereby revisions to later steps require all of the previous steps be redone as well, typically taking a week. Bell says that the design process disclosed and claimed in the ‘626 patent allow for the redesign of only portions of a chip layer, obviating the need to redo design steps for the remainder of the chip. The ‘626 patent was filed in December 2004, and with its 221 days of patent term adjustment is due to expire in July 2025.
Bell says that Advanced Micro Devices (“AMD”) used the patented technology to design the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 and Ryzen 5 processor devices, that Infineon used the technology to design the AURIX TC277T64F200SCA Microcontroller, and NVIDIA by its GV100-400 A1 device, all of which were purportedly designed using Cadence, Synopsys and/or Siemens design tools that perform the process covered by the ‘626 patent.
Bell says that it is a successor to Bell Labs and that it owns about 1500 active U.S. patents relating to semiconductors. Despite the complaint’s recitation of the history of Bell Labs and the innovations created therein, the ‘626 patent actually originated with LSI Logic, and was not acquired by Bell Semiconductor until 2017.
Bell has filed nineteen different patent suits in Massachusetts, including prior suits against each of AMD, Infineon and NVIDIA alleging infringement of a different pair of patents. Those cases had been stayed pending the outcome of a parallel ITC case that was since withdrawn by Bell.
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