Apple, Google, and others in crosshairs of 14 patent lawsuit

A new lawsuit from microprocessor company MicroUnity Systems Engineering is targeting more than 22 companies for multiple instances of patent infringement. In addition to Apple and Google, AppleInsider is reporting that MicroUnity is also going after AT&T, Palm, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, LG, Qualcomm, Samsung, Spring, and Texas Instruments. 

Specific devices that MicroUnity is targeting include the iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch, Motorola Droid, Palm Pre, Google Nexus One, and the Nokia N900.

The 14 patents are as follows: 

  • U.S. Patent No. 5,737,547, "System for Placing Entries of an Outstanding Processor Request into a Free Pool After the Request Is Accepted by a Corresponding Peripheral Device."
  • U.S. Patent No. 5,742,840, "General Purpose, Multiple Precision Parallel Operation, Programmable Media Processor."
  • U.S. Patent No. 5,794,061, "General Purpose, Multiple Precision Parallel Operation, Programmable Media Processor."
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,006,318 C1, "General Purpose, Dynamic Partitioning, Programmable Media Processor."
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,427,190, "Configurable Cache Allowing Cache-Type and Buffer-Type Access."
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,725,356 C1, "System with Wide Operand Architecture, and Method."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,213,131, "Programmable Processor and Method for Partitioned Group Element Selection Operation."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,216,217 B2, "Programmable Processor with Group Floating-Point Operations."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,260,708 B2, "Programmable Processor and Method for Partitioned Group Shift."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,353,367 B2, "System and Software for Catenated Group Shift Instruction."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,509,366 B2, "Multiplier Array Processing System with Enhanced Utilization at Lower Precision."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,653,806 B2, "Method and Apparatus for Performing Improved Group Floating-Point Operations."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,660,972 B2, "Method and Software for Partitioned Floating-Point Multiply-Add Operation."
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,660,973 B2, "System and Apparatus for Group Data Operations."

MicroUnity isn't new to patent lawsuits though, as they have previous experience in patent suits against Sony, AMD, Intel, and Dell--all of which have been settled now as stated on their homepage:

"In the past decades, the company accumulated a large patent portfolio, some of which has been licensed to leading technology companies. In 2003, MicroUnity asserted some of its patents in litigation against Intel and Dell, which concluded with a settlement in 2005. Subsequent patent litigations with Sony and AMD were also settled in 2007."

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25 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I love how they list their patents on their website. That website is the most useless piece of crap ever. I could slap that together in 5 seconds.

It's companies like this that highlight how ridiculous patenting has become.

I think it's fair to say, whichever software / hardware vendors you "align" yourself with, these guys are the enemy.

Scumbags.

•U.S. Patent No. 5,742,840, "General Purpose, Multiple Precision Parallel Operation, Programmable Media Processor."

really? they were able to patent that? That's like every CISC ever made

Being a total non-expert, don't some of these sound like they are targeting the ARM processor most (all?) these devices use?

Lannister said,
Being a total non-expert, don't some of these sound like they are targeting the ARM processor most (all?) these devices use?

Thats exactly what I thought too.

Litigious non-entities like these clowns should be shut-down by the government as they do nothing for the local economy (other than hindering companies who are). Then again, the entire patent system needs overhauling.

U.S. Patent No. 5,737,547, "System for Placing Entries of an Outstanding Processor Request into a Free Pool After the Request Is Accepted by a Corresponding Peripheral Device."

Wat, that seems pretty generic to be patented.

basically issues an instruction and the program counter continues without waiting for the operation to complete...


ekw said,
U.S. Patent No. 5,737,547, "System for Placing Entries of an Outstanding Processor Request into a Free Pool After the Request Is Accepted by a Corresponding Peripheral Device."

Wat, that seems pretty generic to be patented.

basically issues an instruction and the program counter continues without waiting for the operation to complete...


It seems like it.

ekw said,
U.S. Patent No. 5,737,547, "System for Placing Entries of an Outstanding Processor Request into a Free Pool After the Request Is Accepted by a Corresponding Peripheral Device."

Wat, that seems pretty generic to be patented.

basically issues an instruction and the program counter continues without waiting for the operation to complete...


That's just the name of the patent. I'm sure if you read the document itself, it'll get much more specific.

I suppose that's a good way to make money. I wonder if that's their business model.

"We'll buy patents for our portfolio then sue the hell out of bigger more successful companies"

Tim Dawg said,
I suppose that's a good way to make money. I wonder if that's their business model.

"We'll buy patents for our portfolio then sue the hell out of bigger more successful companies"

It looks to be that way with how they've come right out on their homepage to say that they used the money from suing other companies to to buy all shares from outside investors. It's like they're bragging about doing it. They patent these technology with no intentions of actually using them themselves but to charge others for it in the hopes that they can catch someone stealing it. I wonder if that's how it actually is.

dogmai said,
they've come right out on their homepage to say that they used the money from suing other companies to to buy all shares from outside investors.
I fail to see the issue with this. Companies get investors, in return they own a share of the company. Here they just bought out those shares, and ownership returned to the company.

markjensen said,
Wow. Did they leave anybody OFF their list?

Microsoft. Looks like they'll be watching this one from the sidelines on this rare occasion.

Edited by SaltySalsa, Mar 23 2010, 2:53am :

Xcursion said,

Microsoft. Looks like they'll be watching this one from the sidelines on this rare occasion.

That's what I was thinking. It's pretty rare that they wouldn't be mentioned in something like this lol

Xcursion said,

Microsoft. Looks like they'll be watching this one from the sidelines on this rare occasion.

M$ is primarily a software company . They haven't make any branded phone yet. MU is going after phone hardware makers.

vice le von said,

M$ is primarily a software company . They haven't make any branded phone yet. MU is going after phone hardware makers.


Thanks for your insightful response with the inclusion of the $ in the place of S hinting that Microsoft is only out for a profit... like almost every company.

Xcursion said,

Thanks for your insightful response with the inclusion of the $ in the place of S hinting that Microsoft is only out for a profit... like almost every company.

Mis-spelling the company name with a dollar sign hasn't been cool since... well... ever. But I guess not everyone got the memo. Unfortunate part is that no one will continue reading past that spelling error.

C_Guy said,
Mis-spelling the company name with a dollar sign hasn't been cool since... well... ever. But I guess not everyone got the memo. Unfortunate part is that no one will continue reading past that spelling error.

I read past it... does that make me no-one? As to what he was saying, it wasn't biased or anything, so why pick him up on it?