Three months after fending off patent-infringement allegations from Transmeta, Intel is fighting back with allegations of its own, claiming its much smaller rival is violating more than a half-dozen of the chipmaker's patents.
Intel has refuted Transmeta's allegations -- that several of Intel's popular Pentium products infringed on Transmeta patents -- and filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
In the countersuit, Intel claims Transmeta infringed on seven of Intel's patents relating to processor functionality and one that covers an "apparatus for controlling power usage."
In October 2006, Transmeta filed a complaint in the same U.S. District Court, alleging that certain Intel processors violated 11 Transmeta patents.
Transmeta said at the time that Intel has shipped some $100 billion worth of Pentium chips that use the patented Transmeta technology. The company demanded that Intel pay damages, royalties, and lawyer fees, and asked the court to impose a ban on the sale of the Intel chips.
Intel's countersuit states Transmeta does not have a legitimate claim to the patents because Transmeta officials "withheld, concealed and/or mischaracterized" information in their patent applications, according to Intel lawyers.
Neither company responded to requests for comment on the suits.
Energy efficiency has become a hot topic in the computer industry as the demand for high-performance computers that don't overheat or require large cooling systems continues to increase.
Intel has released a flurry of such chips, including new quad-core chips that have the ability to provide more processing power than earlier chips while not increasing electricity consumption or heat.
For its part, Transmeta has argued for several years that its line of processors can run as quickly as Intel's, as well as operate on the same platforms -- all while using less power.