Intel and ARM set to come to blows over patents – report

It seemed that 2011 was the year of the patent war with Apple patent trolling everything that moved, but now Alan MacDougall, a chartered patent attorney – read lawyer –  and partner at IP advisers Mathys & Squire thinks that Intel could be planning a similar strategy. As we reported here, quite a while ago, Intel is an ARM licensee.

Quoted in  Electronics Weekly, MacDougall thinks that Intel will be keen to use any method whether it be fair or foul, to elbow its way into the mobile market.

Intel would like to be able to fall back on its own patent portfolio to enter this new market, but ARM’s dominance in chip designs for battery powered devices makes this tricky. So to get into the market it will have to use some of ARM’s patents.

This would mean that the British firm could negotiate terms with Intel or use its patents to prevent Intel’s getting into its market.

MacDougall does not think it likely that ARM would try and stop Intel. He thinks that would open the door to a host of tit for tat legal actions against some of ARM’s licensees which could do the outfit some damage.

Besides, Intel using ARM patents is good news for the semiconductor design company. It would give it access to new technologies and licences them to chip manufacturers. Intel would represent ARM’s biggest potential customer.

But MacDougall thinks that things will start to get interesting when the two start to argue over whether Intel needs to buy further licences.

In this case ARM may well be forced to initiate patent enforcement proceedings against Intel. Such a response could spell trouble, and may well trigger a patent war between Intel on the one side and ARM and its existing licensees on the other.

He claims that this will end in a long protracted mess which we have already seen happen in the Apple versus Samsung war.