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Intel ordered to pay £1.56 billion for patent infringement

A jury ruled that Intel engaged in “willful blindness” when it infringed patents belonging to VLSI Technology

Intel has been ordered to pay $2.18 billion (£1.56 billion) in patent infringement damages to VLSI Technology following a Texas federal jury’s ruling.

The jury found that Intel infringed two patents belonging to Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors, which was sold to VLSI in 2019, according to Bloomberg.

Although there was “no willful infringement”, the jury ruled that Intel engaged in “willful blindness”, as it failed to ensure that it wasn’t using someone else’s patent. As a result, the tech giant was ordered to pay $1.5 billion (£1.08bn) for infringement of one patent and $675 million (£483.8bn) for infringement of the second.

With total damages coming in at $2.18 billion, it’s the second-highest patent infringement payment awarded in US history, after the 2016 Idenix v Gilead case which saw the former win $2.54 billion (£1.82 billion) in a dispute involving hepatitis C drugs.

However, if the jury had found that Intel had, in fact, engaged in “willful infringement”, district court judge Alan Albright, who presided over the case, could have increased the damages by as much as three-fold.

Intel told Bloomberg that it “strongly disagrees” with the Texas jury’s verdict, adding: "We intend to appeal and are confident that we will prevail."

During the case hearings, Intel lawyer William Lee told the jury that VLSI “took two patents off the shelf that hadn’t been used for 10 years and said, ‘We’d like $2 billion’”. He also described the demand as “outrageous” and said that VLSI was entitled to no more than $2.2 million (£1.58 million).

Following the ruling, VLSI chief executive Michael Stolarski told Bloomberg that the company is “extremely happy with the jury verdict”.

“We are very pleased that the jury recognized the value of the innovations as reflected in the patents,” he said.

Last month, Intel sued one of its former employees for stealing thousands of confidential documents and sharing them with Microsoft after joining the firm to give his new employers a competitive advantage in negotiations.

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