back to article Sony faces case for 'Cell' patent infringement

Sony could be in some hot water over development of the parallel processing Cell CPU, used in several devices including the PS3. A US company is claiming that Sony has infringed on a patent for "synchronized parallel processing with shared memory" and is seeking retribution through the courts. The Parallel Processing …

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Gold badge

Why Sony?

The Cell CPU was developed by a partnership of Sony, Toshiba and IBM.

I would imagine IBM with it's hoards of patents can find one that Parallel infringe on.

If anything I would say that someone in the UK (transputer patent holder?) has a right to see, after all, we had this multiple cores linked via a communication bus malarkey in the 1980s.

Prior art is always there somewhere.

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Patents

I thought only the patent holder could sue. An exclusive licensee can sue the patent holder for breach of contract (if they license to someone else, for instance), but I didn't think they had any claim to the patent rights themselves.

Tyler. Hmm, must tell sister and brother not to mention that my wife designs Power PC based processors (and worked on multiple versions of the PPC itself). Tyler and Marshal. Both almost zero tech.

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Anonymous Coward

IBM

IBM sell the Cell BE in their Blades -- so I would imagine there are an army of blue patent attorneys readying a barage of patents to head this one off...

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Trolling for Dollars

Welcome to the next contestant on the "Patent is Right"

Bob Barfer hosting. Would be fun to see them spin the wheel on the Showcase Showdown, have the unhinge and flatten them.

Still waiting to hear back from the Patent office for that application on the kinetic application of muscle movement and placing of the lower left appendage on the ground, followed by similar kinetic activity to place right lower appendage in front of the left, resulting in movement of skeletal and tissue of exerting body.

Woo hoo - gonna go find me the attorney with the biggest most pathetic, tear-jerking billboard to get me some buck$$$$.

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Hmm

Hmm , I can see why they filed in Texas , as that particular district the circuit appeals court very rarely if ever overturns any case on appeal! along with the majority lower court rulings in favour of the litigant !

Suing a dying corporation like Sony which is in self destruct mode with strings of failed products and now down to selling rebadged products, is not very bright though!

Interestingly , what indeed powers all the top end high powered computer graphic cards as well?

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Anonymous Coward

No products

I'm not sure if this is the case with Parallel, but the thing with patent trolls is that they make no products, and thus exploit no patents, not even their own, and so can't be whacked with an infringement countersuit, not even by the likes of IBM or Sony.

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(Written by Reg staff)

legal clarification

In the US, patents can be bought and sold as an asset. This means that any company purchasing for example, an IT hardware patent is then entitled to bring legal action against another company if it believes that patent has been infringed upon.

Patents are granted much more readily in the US than they are in the UK. This can result in a higher number of infringement claims because the terminology or wording used to describe a patent is sometimes ambiguous and prone to different interpretation.

However, many US cases of patent infringement are settled out of court to avoid high damages being awarded to the claimant by a jury. Therefore, it could be in a defendant’s interests to agree upon a settlement figure with the claimant outside of court.

Hope that clears any queries up.

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Ian

Re: Patents

Dillon -

The law in the UK is that an exclusive licensee has the right to sue as if he was the patent holder, a non-exclusive licensee can't. I'd assume the US has similar provisions.

Personally, I doubt this will go anywhere. They're just trying to get Sony to pay them off.

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Silver badge

Can't be whacked by IBM or Sony

But I'll bet they can very well be whacked by my friend Joey Scaglione. I'll contact him for you if you wish - his prices are very reasonable and the job is always well done.

;-)

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Happening all the time now.

We've heard lots of reports patent infringements lately.

Is this because these big companies are just not bothered about small company patents and keep them hanging in court should they sue?

Or is it because these little companies are just it picking trying to score a little money?

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Anonymous Coward

Another evil troll

I thought that IBM claimed that they were the majority partner in the Cell design - in which case why aren't they being sued instead of Sony? I would suspect that this is because the patent trolls figure that Sony'll be the easier mark. After all, if the going gets tough then they can always play the "evil foreign megacorp screwing a poor lil' mom an' pop an' apple pie US producer" card which they couldn't against IBM.

After the rootkit (and other incidents) I'm definitely no fan of Sony, but in this case I wish them good luck. Hope they win and then countersue for malicious litigation (and win that too).

The "No products" posting brings up a good point - maybe it's time that these "patent bank" companies were stopped. So unless you've made, making or have licensed a product using the technology then there's some easy/cheap route for the companies that are being picked on by the trolls. After all how can PPC be sustaining "monetary damage" unless they're prevented from selling a product based on the patent under discussion?

I'm getting really, really tired of the technique that these US-based companies use of holding onto a patent, waiting until an "infringing" product becomes mainstream/mega-profitable before striking. Heck, maybe there should be a new offence of "patent entrapment" to prevent this?

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Re: Hmm

Sony a "dying corporation"? Really? I don't see how. And I don't see this case having any serious repercussions.

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why sony

the description 'synchronized parallel processing with shared memory' looks like it also covers an amd x2 as well as intels core duo processors.

I imagine a large number of servers have been processing data in parrallel using shared memory for years.

in fact its so vague if you were to go deeper I'm sure you could find a way to get that description to cover every pc and console ever made, ie shared graphics memory on integrated cards. CPU & GPU synchronised by the system clock, sharing system memory

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Biggest load of rubbish

I'm not a major Sony fan, but how can anyone sue claiming "irreparable harm and monetary damage"?

If I was a judge on a case like this, I'd throw it out for two reasons

1) They've waited how long after Cell was announced to claim?

2) They've claimed the damage is "irreparable"...

Is this company even using their own patent for anything? I've never heard of them and wouldn't be surprised if they're just a patent-holding corporation.

Patent laws in the USA need some rethinking.

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Ian

Not a patent troll.

Patent trolls are companies that register/steal/buy patents with the sole intention of using them to sue, without actually having any product based on the patent.

This company does actually have real, tangible products which are indeed of the same architecture as the patents they own. If Sony (and it's cell friends) has actually infringed on this patent with the Cell processor then the company does have a legitimate claim because Sony is essentially profiting of a patented idea without paying the required fees to license the technology.

Whilst I completely disagree with the whole patent system in the first place personally, I certainly can't find fault with Parallel's actions here because far from being a patent troll, they're actually using the patent system as it's intended to be used. They're putting forward a court case regarding a company that is profiting off a patent they own that pertains to hardware they produce. If Sony et al. knew that Cell infringed on this patent then the correct course of action would've been to either pay Parallel to license the patent or to pay Parallel to develop a Cell-type product for them based on this patent.

I know it's easy to cry patent troll when a company you've never heard of sues a big name company, but in this case it's far too early to be crying patent troll, at first looks this seems to actually be a legitimate claim. If you developed a technology first, patented it and then a company like Sony came along and copied it rather than licensing the technology off you or bought your existing product wouldn't you be rather annoyed?

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Patents

I think if they weren't related to patents, tactics like this would be called extortion. Wait until the company can't survive without the technology and then demand huge sums of money or else!

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Anonymous Coward

What products?

I googled Parallel Processing Corporation and can't come up with anything--no products, no web presence, no hits at all except to articles about the lawsuit. Nice name, but it appears to be just a shell company incorporated for the sake of suing Sony. From all appearances, they are patent trolls.

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Anonymous Coward

Amiga DMA

It just makes me think of the old Amiga computers and way they worked. The CPU, GFX, Audio, Control chip all access the same memory pool at will.

Also IBM has so many patents that it a joke. Is filling a patent at IBM how you get payed?

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