Patriot Scientific Widens Net on Patent Claims

The company says it has notified more than 150 additional companies of potential patent infringement of a patent it holds on microprocessor clocks.

Patriot Scientific Corp. said Friday that it had notified more than 150 additional companies of potential patent infringement of a patent Patriot holds on microprocessor clocks.

Patriot, based in San Diego, is already embroiled in a legal fight with Intel Corp. over patent No. 5,809,336, titled "High-performance microprocessor having variable-speed system clock."

Patriot has already sued Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Toshiba Ltd., NEC Corp. and Matsushita Ltd., seeking total damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The patent allegedly covers the operation of microprocessors clocked at faster than 110- to 120-MHz, according to Patriot, of which a vast number exist today. While the patent describes the invention, the text does not contain the phrases "110 MHz" or "120 MHz."

Patent disputes can run for years, noted Rich Belgard, an independent patent consultant living in Saratoga, Calif. For example, by the time Intergraph Corp. and Intel Corp. settled their differences, Intergraph had long since exited –or been forced out of, according to Intergraph—the hardware business that the company had been founded upon. In February, Intel filed suit in a Northern California district court seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe on Patriots patents.

According to Patriots Web site, Patriot offers the IGNITE family of embedded microprocessors, some associated tools, and its intellectual property, which includes the patent in question. During the third quarter of fiscal year 2004 ended Feb. 24, Patriot recorded $3,384 in revenue on a net loss of $975,894.

The company recently discontinued its communications products and expects its future sales to derive from the sale of licenses and royalties, according to its latest 10-QSB filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Patriot requires $2.1 million in cash to fund its operations over the next 12 months, and the company said in its filing that it expects to receive the funding through additional debt and/or equity financings; as well as proceeds from the exercise of outstanding stock options and warrants. Patriot had slightly more than $240,000 in cash on hand at the end of the February quarter, the filing said.

Representatives from Patriot did not return calls for comment by publishing time.

"Its hard to tell whether the [Patriot] patents mean a great deal," Belgard said. "According to Patriot, they cover a great breadth of products. Theres no way of knowing whether Intel infringes them or not, for example; thats up to a court to decide. But just the fact that theyre out there should be disconcerting."

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