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PICList Thread
'Microchip sues Scenix and parallax'
1997\11\10@172517 by Rick Sherman

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Microchip files suit against two

                By Darrell Dunn

                Microchip Technology Inc. has filed suit against Scenix
Semiconductor Inc.
                and Parallax Inc., alleging infringement of six patents
related to Microchip's
                8-bit PIC MCU architecture.

                Microchip, Chandler, Ariz., is also alleging
misappropriation of trade secrets
                by Scenix and Parallax and breach of contract by
Parallax, said Steve
                Sanghi, president and chief executive of Microchip. The
company is seeking
                preliminary and permanent injunctions halting shipment
of any devices related
                to the patents, as well as unspecified damages.

                Scenix, Santa Clara, Calif., demonstrated its first
product, the SX
                microcontroller, at the Embedded Systems Conference in
San Jose in
                October, Sanghi said. Microchip is alleging that the SX
infringes on its
                patents.

                Parallax, Rocklin, Calif., is a provider of third-party
development tools for the
                SX microcontroller. Sanghi said Parallax has served as
a third-party
                developer for Microchip. Three years ago "a fair amount
of technical and
                intellectual property was given to Parallax under a
nondisclosure agreement
                we believe they have breached," Microchip said.

                Laura Hernandez, marketing manager at Scenix, said the
company has not
                infringed on any patents. Parallax could not be reached
for comment.

                Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.

                                   [New Search] [Search the Web]

                                 You can reach this article directly:

www.techweb.com/se/directlink.cgi?EBN19971110S0010

1997\11\10@235432 by tjaart

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Rick Sherman wrote:
>
> Microchip files suit against two
>
>                  By Darrell Dunn
>
>                  Microchip Technology Inc. has filed suit against Scenix
> Semiconductor Inc.
>                  and Parallax Inc., alleging infringement of six patents
> related to Microchip's
>                  8-bit PIC MCU architecture.

I was waiting for this. I you can't beat 'em, sue 'em. How predictable.
If
Microchip spent the money they are wasting on making lawyers rich on
engineers, everybody (except said lawyers) would benefit.

C'mon guys, you can sue Scenix, but you won't have enough fingers to
plug
all the holes. If the technology is within reach of a small company like
Scenix, others will follow.

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
spam_OUTtjaartTakeThisOuTspamwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
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1997\11\11@002926 by Bob Lunn

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Bob Lunn
11/11/97 04:26 PM


> C'mon guys, you can sue Scenix, but you won't have
> enough fingers to plug all the holes. If the technology
> is within reach of a small company like Scenix, others
> will follow.

    Yeah, but what's this got to do with the validity
    or otherwise of Microchip's claim?

    After all, if Scenix HAS infringed a Microchip
    patent (or Microchip reasonably BELIEVES that they
    have) then Microchip MUST sue.  If they don't then
    they risk losing their patent.  That's the way
    the law works.  Don't blame Microchip.

    Or are you saying that just because Scenix are
    small, and doing work that is arguably interesting,
    then Microchip should stand back and let their
    intellectual property be stolen?

___Bob

PS:  Don't worry, I AM as cynical as the next guy.  I
    don't have any illusions about the use of patents
    as business weapons rather than tools.

1997\11\11@003743 by Bob Lunn

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Bob Lunn
11/11/97 04:40 PM


Oh, BTW, if you want to look at Microchip's patents
then go to:

    http://patent.womplex.ibm.com/boolquery.html

then, in the first field selection box (showing the
default setting 'Any Field') pull-down the menu and
select 'Assignee'.  Then, in the adjacent edit box
type 'Microchip Technology Incorporated'.

Then click 'search'.

Enjoy

___Bob

1997\11\11@005531 by tjaart

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blunn@keycorp.com.au wrote:
>
> Bob Lunn
> 11/11/97 04:25 PM
>
> > C'mon guys, you can sue Scenix, but you won't have
> > enough fingers to plug all the holes. If the technology
> > is within reach of a small company like Scenix, others
> > will follow.
>
>      Yeah, but what's this got to do with the validity
>      or otherwise of Microchip's claim?
>
>      After all, if Scenix HAS infringed a Microchip
>      patent (or Microchip reasonably BELIEVES that they
>      have) then Microchip MUST sue.  If they don't then
>      they risk losing their patent.  That's the way
>      the law works.  Don't blame Microchip.

I agree that (true) intellectual property should be protected.

{Quote hidden}

I think Mchip is just following good (business, not ethical)
strategy. A nice fat law suit will :
a) Buy them time to get their flash stuff out (6 months is
  but a moment in court)
b) Hopefully (for Mchip, that is) financially hurt Scenix enough
  to strap their cashflow.

I am sure you will agree that patents only benefit those that
have the sheckels to defend it.

I'll bet my bottom Rand (we can't afford Dollars ;) ) that, even
if there wasn't (isn't ?) an infringement, Mchip would have sued
anyway just to buy them some time.

I'm sure I'll be roasted much better for starting this thread
again ;)

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
.....tjaartKILLspamspam@spam@wasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
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1997\11\11@043908 by Andrew Warren

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Rick Sherman wrote:

> > Microchip Technology Inc. has filed suit against Scenix
> > Semiconductor Inc. and Parallax Inc., alleging infringement of
> > six patents related to Microchip's 8-bit PIC MCU architecture.

and Tjaart van der Walt <tjaartspamKILLspamwasp.co.za> replied:

> I was waiting for this. I you can't beat 'em, sue 'em. How
> predictable. If Microchip spent the money they are wasting on making
> lawyers rich on engineers, everybody (except said lawyers) would
> benefit.
>
> C'mon guys, you can sue Scenix, but you won't have enough fingers to
> plug all the holes. If the technology is within reach of a small
> company like Scenix, others will follow.

   Jesus, Tjaart... Give it a rest.

   What do you suppose patents are FOR?  If owning a patent doesn't
   give you the right to sue people who infringe upon it, what
   rights DOES it give you?

   If "the technology is within reach of a small company like
   Scenix" only because (as Microchip has alleged) they've
   infringed on Microchip's patents or been given confidential
   information from someone prohibited from disclosing it, then
   Microchip SHOULD be granted the remedies for which they've asked.

   And your argument that Microchip should spend its money on
   engineers rather than on lawyers is specious at best... I mean,
   what's the POINT of spending money on engineers if you can't
   protect their work?

   I'll admit that Steve Sanghi appears to have read Andy Grove's
   book and taken notes... His paranoia (I use the word in the same
   sense as Grove does) seems rather extreme.  However, it IS his
   job -- his ONLY job -- to make his company as profitable as
   possible, and vigorous defense of its intellectual property is
   necessary to achieve that goal.

   Personally, I see some problems with Microchip's position... For
   example, some of the patents (like number 5,473,758) may be
   judged invalid if this case ever goes to trial.

   Also, Microchip claims that Parallax improperly used information
   it acquired under NDA "three years ago".  Every Microchip NDA
   that _I've_ ever signed has had a confidentiality period of only
   three years... If Parallax DID use any information covered by the
   NDA, they may prove in court that they waited until the day
   after the NDA expired to do so.

   Nevertheless, these issues have no bearing on the question at
   hand, which is "Is Microchip doing the right thing by bringing
   suit against Scenix and Parallax?".  Personally, I think they
   are... If for no other reason than that they don't have a
   choice.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - .....fastfwdKILLspamspam.....ix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\11@045621 by tjaart

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Andrew Warren wrote:
>
>     Jesus, Tjaart... Give it a rest.
Hehehe. Relax, Andy. Resting is for people who work 8 hour days.

>
>     What do you suppose patents are FOR?  If owning a patent doesn't
>     give you the right to sue people who infringe upon it, what
>     rights DOES it give you?
You are completely right. However, it is a sad fact that justice costs
money. A costly dispute would eventually benefit the stronger of the
involved companies. Mchip is not so innocent here either (Remember the
Lucent patent lawsuit?).

I wonder what became of that one. Does anybody know?

>
>     If "the technology is within reach of a small company like
>     Scenix" only because (as Microchip has alleged) they've
>     infringed on Microchip's patents or been given confidential
>     information from someone prohibited from disclosing it, then
>     Microchip SHOULD be granted the remedies for which they've asked.
Of course.

>     And your argument that Microchip should spend its money on
>     engineers rather than on lawyers is specious at best... I mean,
>     what's the POINT of spending money on engineers if you can't
>     protect their work?
Right again. I don't dispute the value of intellectual property.

{Quote hidden}

Why did they wait until now?

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
EraseMEtjaartspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
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1997\11\11@071814 by Andrew Warren

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Tjaart van der Walt <tjaartspamspam_OUTwasp.co.za> wrote:

> Why did [Microchip] wait until now [to bring suit against Scenix
> and Parallax]?

   I'm not sure I understand the question, Tjaart.

   The SX chip was first shown at the Embedded Systems Conference
   at the beginning of October, and Microchip filed their suit just a
   few weeks later, on October 27.

   The additional misappropriation-of-trade-secrets and
   breach-of-contract complaints were filed quickly, too... Just
   two weeks after the initial filing.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - @spam@fastfwdKILLspamspamix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\11@120915 by Tom Rogers

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Amen, Andy. Except...

The expiration of a non-disclosure agreement doesn't grant any IP rights.
You still can't give away what you don't own.

--Tom Rogers  VP-R&D  Time Tech Inc.


{Original Message removed}

1997\11\11@123030 by wwl

picon face
On Tue, 11 Nov 1997 06:55:44 +0200, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Now I've seen some info on the new PIC16C1xx range, this action makes
more sense - Scenix were targetting high-speed I/O applications, which
is one of the major changes in the new PICs. The uncertainty caused by
this action will make people hold off from using Scenix until it is
resolved (would YOU design-in Scenix now ?), by which time it may be
too late. I can't really see what's patentable about the PIC
architecture - they just did it first & cheap, and it could have been
done in one of several ways with the same performance.
    ____                                                           ____
  _/ L_/  Mike Harrison / White Wing Logic / KILLspamwwlKILLspamspamnetcomuk.co.uk  _/ L_/
_/ W_/  Hardware & Software design / PCB Design / Consultancy  _/ W_/
/_W_/  Industrial / Computer Peripherals / Hazardous Area      /_W_/

1997\11\11@153255 by Andrew Warren

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Tom Rogers <RemoveMEPICLISTTakeThisOuTspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> The expiration of a non-disclosure agreement doesn't grant any IP
> rights. You still can't give away what you don't own.

   Yeah, Tom, but I was talking only about Microchip's "breach of
   contract" complaint against Parallax.

   Microchip's NDA just says that "Recipient's duty to hold
   Confidential Information in confidence expires on (date)". I'm
   no lawyer, but _I_ interpret that paragraph to mean that the
   information can be disclosed after the Agreement expires...
   Although USE of the information may still be prohibited by
   patents, etc.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - spamBeGonefastfwdspamBeGonespamix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\11@234912 by tjaart

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Mike Harrison wrote:
>
> >C'mon guys, you can sue Scenix, but you won't have enough fingers to
> >plug
> >all the holes. If the technology is within reach of a small company like
> >Scenix, others will follow.
> Now I've seen some info on the new PIC16C1xx range, this action makes
> more sense - Scenix were targetting high-speed I/O applications, which
> is one of the major changes in the new PICs. The uncertainty caused by
> this action will make people hold off from using Scenix until it is
> resolved (would YOU design-in Scenix now ?), by which time it may be
You hit the nail slap bang on the head there...

> too late. I can't really see what's patentable about the PIC
> architecture - they just did it first & cheap, and it could have been
> done in one of several ways with the same performance.

You should see the patents that Mchip hold. Brownout, Power-up timer
etc.
I think this is probably what Mchip is sueing for. Whilst the Harvard
architecture doesn't seem patentable (I'm probably wrong!), Mchip made
sure they stopped others from using pipelineing etc.

I just hope that whatever Scenix did to get 100Mips out of a flash chip,
is protected by the same patent system that prevents Scenix from using
on-chip brownout protection.

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
TakeThisOuTtjaartEraseMEspamspam_OUTwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
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1997\11\12@003711 by Andrew Warren

face
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Tjaart van der Walt <RemoveMEtjaartspamTakeThisOuTwasp.co.za> wrote:

> You should see the patents that Mchip hold. Brownout, Power-up timer
> etc. I think this is probably what Mchip is sueing for.

   You're correct, Tjaart... The six patents referenced in the suit
   are:

       5473758:  System having input output pins shifting between
                 programming mode and normal mode to program memory
                 without dedicating input output pins for
                 programming mode

       5606511:  Microcontroller with brownout detection

       5454114:  Microcontroller power-up delay

       5033025:  On-chip register setting and clearing

       5469557:  Code protection in microcontroller with EEPROM
                 fuses

       5446864:  System and method for protecting contents of
                 microcontroller memory by providing scrambled data
                 in response to an unauthorized read access without
                 alteration of the memory contents

> I just hope that whatever Scenix did to get 100Mips out of a flash
> chip, is protected by the same patent system that prevents Scenix
> from using on-chip brownout protection.

   A search of IBM's patent server (whose database is current as of
   4 November 1997) shows NO patents EVER assigned to Scenix
   Semiconductor, Inc.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - fastfwdEraseMEspam.....ix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\12@012711 by Bob Lunn

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Bob Lunn
11/12/97 05:27 PM


>> I just hope that whatever Scenix did to get 100Mips out of a flash
>> chip, is protected by the same patent system that prevents Scenix
>> from using on-chip brownout protection.
>
>    A search of IBM's patent server (whose database is current as
>    of 4 November 1997) shows NO patents EVER assigned to Scenix
>    Semiconductor, Inc.

    Yeah, but given the short time Scenix has been in business
    it's hardly surprising they have no patents GRANTED.

    Scenix might have a hundred PROVISIONAL patents and patents
    PENDING.  This information isn't on the IBM patent server.

___Bob

1997\11\12@015654 by Luigi Rizzo

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> > You should see the patents that Mchip hold. Brownout, Power-up timer
> > etc. I think this is probably what Mchip is sueing for.
>
>     You're correct, Tjaart... The six patents referenced in the suit
>     are:
>
>         5473758:  System having input output pins shifting between
>                   programming mode and normal mode to program memory
>                   without dedicating input output pins for
>                   programming mode

this is weird... EPROM have been out for a while and it seems to me
that the above description exactly matches the programming method for
EPROMs! (yes I know Eproms have a Vpp pin, but just call it RESET...)

>         5469557:  Code protection in microcontroller with EEPROM
>                   fuses
>
>         5446864:  System and method for protecting contents of
>                   microcontroller memory by providing scrambled data
>                   in response to an unauthorized read access without
>                   alteration of the memory contents

if this is the protection technique used on the 16C84, good that
they don't call it "Secure" :)

       Cheers
       Luigi
-----------------------------+--------------------------------------
Luigi Rizzo                  |  Dip. di Ingegneria dell'Informazione
email: EraseMEluigispamiet.unipi.it    |  Universita' di Pisa
tel: +39-50-568533           |  via Diotisalvi 2, 56126 PISA (Italy)
fax: +39-50-568522           |  http://www.iet.unipi.it/~luigi/
_____________________________|______________________________________

1997\11\12@021133 by Andrew Warren

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I wrote:

> > A search of IBM's patent server (whose database is current as
> > of 4 November 1997) shows NO patents EVER assigned to Scenix
> > Semiconductor, Inc.

and Bob Lunn <RemoveMEPICLISTEraseMEspamEraseMEMITVMA.MIT.EDU> replied:

> Yeah, but given the short time Scenix has been in business it's
> hardly surprising they have no patents GRANTED.

   Scenix has been in business for some time... Before they did the
   SX chip, they made ASICs.  I don't know much about their ASIC
   business except that they're licensed to use the National COP8
   core.

> Scenix might have a hundred PROVISIONAL patents and patents
> PENDING.  This information isn't on the IBM patent server.

   Correct.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - RemoveMEfastfwdspam_OUTspamKILLspamix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\12@021541 by tjaart

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Luigi Rizzo wrote:
>
> >         5446864:  System and method for protecting contents of
> >                   microcontroller memory by providing scrambled data
> >                   in response to an unauthorized read access without
> >                   alteration of the memory contents
>
> if this is the protection technique used on the 16C84, good that
> they don't call it "Secure" :)
<GRIN> .. or if it referred to the JW parts, "useful"

I truly hope they patented the fact that the program cannot read the
ID locations. I wouldn't like to see more silicon with that feature <G>

Even better : I hope they patented the fact that the checksum is the
same for any program if you code protect 'all'

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
RemoveMEtjaartTakeThisOuTspamspamwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
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|_____________________________________________________________|

1997\11\12@024306 by Andrew Warren

face
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Luigi Rizzo <EraseMEPICLISTspamspamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> > 5473758:  System having input output pins shifting between
> >           programming mode and normal mode to program memory
> >           without dedicating input output pins for
> >           programming mode
>
> this is weird... EPROM have been out for a while and it seems to me
> that the above description exactly matches the programming method
> for EPROMs! (yes I know Eproms have a Vpp pin, but just call it
> RESET...)

Luigi:

Read the patent before jumping to conclusions.

The patent specifically claims a means by which the chip is
programmed with FEWER PINS than the width of each memory cell... Here
are some selected quotes from the Background and Summary sections of
the patent:

   "It is a principal object of the present invention to provide
   apparatus and method which permits the use of 14-bit instruction
   words despite the presence of only 12 I/O pins in the
   microcontroller.",

   ".... Another object of the invention is to provide a
   semiconductor device which may be programmed while in circuit
   without the need for additional pins relative to those utilized
   for the normal circuit or system operating mode.

   "A further object of the invention is to provide a
   microcontroller device which may be user-programmed while
   embedded in the system which is to undergo control.", and

   "According to another significant aspect of teh invention, the
   microcontroller is provided with a serial-parallel interface
   between the I/O ports and the program memory, to allow both
   serial and parallel programming of the device."

As I said in my original message in this thread, though, Microchip
may have some problems with this particular patent... Two of its ten
claims relate directly to the use of EPROM memory (the SX chip uses
flash of some sort), one of the claims (and portions of two others)
relates to the suppresion of disturbances caused by the high
voltages associated with EPROM programming, a couple others involve
implementation issues (latches between the pins and the memory) that
might be worked around, and there's always the dim possibility that
Scenix might be able to show prior art for the other claims.

This particular patent, though, seems to be the weakest of the six
that Microchip is suing over... Even if the case goes to trial and
this one's invalidated, the others will probably (in my opinion
as a non-lawyer) stand up.

-Andy

=== Andrew Warren - RemoveMEfastfwdKILLspamspamix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\12@034955 by Luigi Rizzo

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> Luigi Rizzo <PICLISTSTOPspamspamspam_OUTMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:
>
> > > 5473758:  System having input output pins shifting between
> > >           programming mode and normal mode to program memory
> > >           without dedicating input output pins for
> > >           programming mode
> >
> > this is weird... EPROM have been out for a while and it seems to me
> > that the above description exactly matches the programming method
> > for EPROMs! (yes I know Eproms have a Vpp pin, but just call it
> > RESET...)
>
> Luigi:
>
> Read the patent before jumping to conclusions.

of course :)

> The patent specifically claims a means by which the chip is
> programmed with FEWER PINS than the width of each memory cell... Here
> are some selected quotes from the Background and Summary sections of
> the patent:

well the description you gave above made no mention on the number of
pins used.

Luckily I am not much in patent stuff, but everytime I read a
patent, some of its claims seem so obvious that it is surprising
and highly suspicious that the patent has been granted. This one
is possibly even worse than the average:

>     "It is a principal object of the present invention to provide
>     apparatus and method which permits the use of 14-bit instruction
>     words despite the presence of only 12 I/O pins in the
>     microcontroller.",

ah... someone has finally invented serial communication...

       Cheers
       Luigi
-----------------------------+--------------------------------------
Luigi Rizzo                  |  Dip. di Ingegneria dell'Informazione
email: spamBeGoneluigiSTOPspamspamEraseMEiet.unipi.it    |  Universita' di Pisa
tel: +39-50-568533           |  via Diotisalvi 2, 56126 PISA (Italy)
fax: +39-50-568522           |  http://www.iet.unipi.it/~luigi/
_____________________________|______________________________________

1997\11\12@065823 by tjaart

flavicon
face
Luigi Rizzo wrote:
>
> >     "It is a principal object of the present invention to provide
> >     apparatus and method which permits the use of 14-bit instruction
> >     words despite the presence of only 12 I/O pins in the
> >     microcontroller.",
>
> ah... someone has finally invented serial communication...

Wow! This claim is.. well.. interesting. Will no micro vendor now
be allowed to make chips with less I/O than program word bits?

What exactly is this, ah, method that Mchip use to have less I/O
than program word bits? A robotic side-cutter maybe?

Maybe a patented laser supercalifragilistic I/O zaptifier? <ROTFLMFHO>

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
KILLspamtjaartspamBeGonespamwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
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|_____________________________________________________________|

1997\11\12@070022 by Andrew Warren

face
flavicon
face
Luigi Rizzo <EraseMEPICLISTspamEraseMEMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> > The patent specifically claims a means by which the chip is
> > programmed with FEWER PINS than the width of each memory cell... Here
> > are some selected quotes from the Background and Summary sections of
> > the patent:
>
> well the description you gave above made no mention on the number of
> pins used.

   Luigi:

   Yes, that's true... But the "description" I gave was the TITLE of
   that particular patent, not my own summary of it.

   I apologize for not explaining that the description was in
   Microchip's words, not mine... I should have realized that
   non-native speakers of English (I assume that your native
   language is Italian) might not recognize the stilted, formal
   language used in most U.S. patent applications.

{Quote hidden}

   I understand your point, but as I'm sure you know, invention is
   an incremental process... Most patents advance the state of the
   art by just a small amount; there are very few gigantic leaps.

   New inventions generally build on existing ones, and there's
   nothing wrong with granting patents to those new inventions. For
   example, few people would argue that the microprocessor was an
   "obvious" idea unworthy of a patent, even though transistors,
   integrated circuits, and digital computers all existed for years
   before it was invented... The "innovation", in that case,
   involved combining those three existing ideas in a novel way.

   Obvious or not, this particular claim is likely to be invalidated
   ONLY if Scenix can show that prior art existed (i.e., that an
   earlier microprocessor used 12 or fewer I/O pins to load the
   contents of 14-bit instruction words).  If you know of such prior
   art, I'd love to hear about it.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren - @spam@fastfwd@spam@spamspam_OUTix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\12@085142 by wwl

picon face
>    I understand your point, but as I'm sure you know, invention is
>    an incremental process... Most patents advance the state of the
>    art by just a small amount; there are very few gigantic leaps.
>
>    New inventions generally build on existing ones, and there's
>    nothing wrong with granting patents to those new inventions.
.. even if the new 'invention' is an obvious application of existing,
well-known technology (i.e. shift registers) that ANY engineer would
have come up with faced with the same requirement ?
It seems wrong to be able to patent the application of well known
techniques in an obvious way to solve a problem that has cropped up,
which is only novel in that the *problem* has not cropped up before,
not that a novel, non-obvious  solution to a problem has been
invented.   If you built a cpu with a 13 bit core, could you patent a
13 bit shift register, as this is presumably outside the scope of MCTs
patent ?
The claims relating to eprom cells seem like sloppy patent writing -
this should have really been more general, e.g. 'nonvolatile memory
cells' would have covered eprom, eeprom, flash and fuses!

    ____                                                           ____
  _/ L_/  Mike Harrison / White Wing Logic / spamBeGonewwlspamKILLspamnetcomuk.co.uk  _/ L_/
_/ W_/  Hardware & Software design / PCB Design / Consultancy  _/ W_/
/_W_/  Industrial / Computer Peripherals / Hazardous Area      /_W_/

1997\11\12@103347 by Andy Kunz

flavicon
face
>    I understand your point, but as I'm sure you know, invention is
>    an incremental process... Most patents advance the state of the
>    art by just a small amount; there are very few gigantic leaps.

There were a few gigantic leaps, but this part of Tesla's work is still
classified, although things are starting to leak out.

>    art, I'd love to hear about it.

So would the Scenix lawyers!

Andy

==================================================================
Andy Kunz - Montana Design - 409 S 6th St - Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
         Hardware & Software for Industry & R/C Hobbies
       "Go fast, turn right, and keep the wet side down!"
==================================================================

1997\11\12@123826 by Paul BRITTON

flavicon
face
I thought Intels 8751 used I/O pins for programming internal code memory
and also they have an 'encryption array' to prevent code being read out...
maybe Intel licenced this from Microchip, I don't know, does anyone else?


Just asking......Paul
{Quote hidden}

1997\11\12@162713 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
At 03:58 AM 11/12/97 -0800, you wrote:
>    Obvious or not, this particular claim is likely to be invalidated
>    ONLY if Scenix can show that prior art existed (i.e., that an
>    earlier microprocessor used 12 or fewer I/O pins to load the
>    contents of 14-bit instruction words).  If you know of such prior
>    art, I'd love to hear about it.
>
>    -Andy

Andy,

I thought that to obtain or uphold a patent, one had only to prove that
their idea was not common knowledge and was not in common useage at the
time of the patent application. I didn't think that it mattered if there
was prior artwork which was only known to a few people. If this were the
case, most patents could be contested because most inventions are
"re-invented" by several people and only one or a few ultimately decice to
pursue it and get a patent.

Interestingly enough, I do know that it is possible for two patents to
overlap and therefore, unless the two patent owners work together, neither
can produce their idea.

Sean


Sean Breheny,KA3YXM
Electrical Engineering Student

1997\11\12@165340 by Andy Kunz

flavicon
face
>Interestingly enough, I do know that it is possible for two patents to
>overlap and therefore, unless the two patent owners work together, neither
>can produce their idea.

The other aspect is that the METHOD may differ, even if the net results are
equivalent, and there is no infringement.  Witness the
AMD/Cirrus/Intel/Digital stuff.

Andy


==================================================================
Andy Kunz - Montana Design - 409 S 6th St - Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
         Hardware & Software for Industry & R/C Hobbies
       "Go fast, turn right, and keep the wet side down!"
==================================================================

1997\11\12@165543 by myke predko

flavicon
face
Paul Britton wrote:
>I thought Intels 8751 used I/O pins for programming internal code memory
>and also they have an 'encryption array' to prevent code being read out...
>maybe Intel licenced this from Microchip, I don't know, does anyone else?

1.  Intel's "encryption array" is 64 bytes which are negated and XORed with
the data coming out:

 Data Out = Data[ Address ] ^ ( !Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ])

Each address has a corresponding XOR value in the 64 Byte (6 address bit)
encryption array.  When the Intel part is erased, the negated encryption
array is all 0FFh which means that

 Data Out = Data[ Address ] ^ ( !Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ])
          = Data[ Address ] ^ ( !0x0FF )
          = Data[ Address ] ^ 0x000
          = Data[ Address ]

Or no encryption takes place.

This is why Intel specifies that no data areas should be left as 0x0FF (or
even a "fill" value) if the encryption feature is used, because the
encryption value can be worked out from it.

 Data Out = Data[ Address ] ^ ( !Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ])
          = 0x0FF ^ ( !Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ])
Knowing that inverting a value is the same as XORing with 0x0FF:
          = 0x0FF ^ ( 0x0FF ^ Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ])
          = 0x0FF ^ 0x0FF ^ Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ]
          = 0 ^ Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ]
          = Encrypt[ Address & 0x03F ]

Microchip's Code Protection/encrypting algorithm (as I understand it) is:

 Data Out = Data[ Address - 1 ] ^ Data[ Address ] ^ Data[ Address +1 ]

which works completely differently.

2.  The 8051's control store is 8 bits wide and can be read/written directly
from/to the device in parallel whereas the PIC's is 12, 14 or 16 bits and
being able to shovel in 12 or 14 bits into devices that don't have enough
I/O pins to do it in parallel is what the patent's all about.

>Just asking......Paul

No problem - it gives me a chance to repeat some stuff I just learned.  :)

myke

Check out "Programming and Customizing the PIC Microcontroller" at:

http://www.myke.com

1997\11\12@180957 by W.E. van Bemmel

picon face
Please guys..

Could you start another discussion list about the 'sues' please..
I am quite new around here, and all I have to do is delete mail about
this American Hobby of sueing..

Or, give me (I am new.. ) a quick means of filtering out messages about
this subject.
Of course there is an easy way ( I am using Netscape, recent version),
but reading all
this sueing stuff leaves me no time to find out myself.

Thanks for the help, but the suggestion remains: start another discussion
list !

Wim.

Andrew Warren wrote:

{Quote hidden}

1997\11\12@201529 by Andrew Warren

face
flavicon
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Sean Breheny <RemoveMEPICLISTspamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> I thought that to obtain or uphold a patent, one had only to prove
> that their idea was not common knowledge and was not in common
> useage at the time of the patent application. I didn't think that it
> mattered if there was prior artwork which was only known to a few
> people. If this were the case, most patents could be contested
> because most inventions are "re-invented" by several people and only
> one or a few ultimately decice to pursue it and get a patent.
>
> Interestingly enough, I do know that it is possible for two patents
> to overlap and therefore, unless the two patent owners work
> together, neither can produce their idea.

Guys:

This is getting out of hand... I think we're starting to get way
off-topic for the PICLIST.

For a very basic idea of how US patent law works, visit the US Patent
and Trademark Office's web site... Try their "General Information"
page at:

   http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/

Sean:  For answers to the questions implied by your comments, go to
the web site and click on the "What can be patented", "Novelty and
other conditions for obtaining a patent", and "Interferences" links.

-Andy

=== Andrew Warren - spamBeGonefastfwd@spam@spamspam_OUTix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - Vista, California
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1997\11\12@220659 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
   > >     "It is a principal object of the present invention to provide
   > >     apparatus and method which permits the use of 14-bit instruction
   > >     words despite the presence of only 12 I/O pins in the
   > >     microcontroller.",

   Wow! This claim is.. well.. interesting. Will no micro vendor now
   be allowed to make chips with less I/O than program word bits?

Hmm, so who did do the first serial-programmable prom micro?  Motarola in
their 6805 series?  (But that was rs232 download using essentially a tiny
"shadow kernel" in the rom area, right - entirely different and probably
patented as well.  There's more to this than meets the eye, even if the
surface technique is "obvious".

A frequent outcome of patent suits is cross-licensing agreement of assorted
intellectual property.  An arrangement that wound up with parallax being
allowed to second-source the scenix chip would be "interesting"...

BillW

1997\11\12@235946 by tjaart

flavicon
face
Andy Kunz wrote:
>
> >Interestingly enough, I do know that it is possible for two patents to
> >overlap and therefore, unless the two patent owners work together, neither
> >can produce their idea.
>
> The other aspect is that the METHOD may differ, even if the net results are
> equivalent, and there is no infringement.  Witness the
> AMD/Cirrus/Intel/Digital stuff.

Won't an improvement also give someone opportunity to get away?

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
TakeThisOuTtjaartspamspamwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
|    Voice : +27-(0)11-622-8686 | Fax : +27-(0)11-622-8973    |
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|_____________________________________________________________|

1997\11\13@002511 by tjaart

flavicon
face
Andrew Warren wrote:
>
> Sean Breheny <PICLISTEraseMEspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:
>
> > I thought that to obtain or uphold a patent, one had only to prove
> > that their idea was not common knowledge and was not in common
> > useage at the time of the patent application. I didn't think that it
> > mattered if there was prior artwork which was only known to a few
> > people. If this were the case, most patents could be contested
> > because most inventions are "re-invented" by several people and only
> > one or a few ultimately decice to pursue it and get a patent.
> >
> > Interestingly enough, I do know that it is possible for two patents
> > to overlap and therefore, unless the two patent owners work
> > together, neither can produce their idea.
>
> Guys:
>
> This is getting out of hand... I think we're starting to get way
> off-topic for the PICLIST.

I don't know. Previously it was said that it should be kept in the open,
so everybody can make up their own minds (not by myself though).
Anything that can affect any of the PIClisters' perceptions, development
time, development tools, cost, software and hardware sizes must be given
the chance to be fairly discussed.

Scenix has been plugged as drop-in replacements for PICs which they are
not. It has also been hailed as supplementary to the Mchip line, which
IMHO they are not either. Opinions vary and that is good.

I cannot immagine someone stupid enough to go and "design" a product
that looks exactly like a big company's pride and joy, stick plenty of
money into the development, only to lose it all after the first suit.

On the other hand, it would be stupid of Mchip to NOT sue Scenix at
this point (even if the infringements are immaginary), because they
are also trying to get flash chips into the middle end (sic) market.

Time is everything in our game.

Bearing in mind the similarities between PICs and the Scenix chips,
having a separate list would only benefit no-one but Mchip.

--
Friendly Regards

Tjaart van der Walt
RemoveMEtjaartEraseMEspamspam_OUTwasp.co.za
_____________________________________________________________
| WASP International http://www.wasp.co.za/~tjaart/index.html |
|       R&D Engineer : GSM peripheral services development    |
|   Vehicle tracking | Telemetry systems | GSM data transfer  |
|    Voice : +27-(0)11-622-8686 | Fax : +27-(0)11-622-8973    |
|              WGS-84 : 26010.52'S 28006.19'E                 |
|_____________________________________________________________|

1997\11\13@010907 by Dave Celsnak

flavicon
face
Hello,

I am a student of electronics,  and I am finding the discussion of
"Microchip sues the World" very interesting. I'm enjoying the realizm of
the whole issue.

I heard that Microchip outsold (billions of dollars) Intel. (Anyone else?)

I have been programming microcontrollers for over a year, now.  I am now
gaining new insight on what a Huge industry this is.  Embedded control
will go how far???  Movie buffs? --> Terminator.  Hyper-Alloy steel shell,
microprocessor controlled.

Sorry - Just having fun with this incredible field!

Dave Celsnak
Senior, Western Michigan University
(Believe it or not, Automotive Engineering :-)


On Thu, 13 Nov 1997, Tjaart van der Walt wrote:

{Quote hidden}

1997\11\13@041646 by Clyde Smith-Stubbs

flavicon
face
On Thu, Nov 13, 1997 at 01:08:37AM -0500, Dave Celsnak wrote:

> I heard that Microchip outsold (billions of dollars) Intel. (Anyone else?)

Microchip have a ways to go before they hit the billions. 1997 sales were
$334million. Not to be sneezed at, but not in Intel's league. Their growth
rate is quite impressive - somewhere around 30%/year.


--
Clyde Smith-Stubbs               |            HI-TECH Software
Email: @spam@clydespam_OUTspam.....htsoft.com          |          Phone            Fax
WWW:   http://www.htsoft.com/    | USA: (408) 490 2885  (408) 490 2885
PGP:   finger spamBeGoneclydeEraseMEspamhtsoft.com   | AUS: +61 7 3354 2411 +61 7 3354 2422
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
ANSI C for the PIC! Now shipping! See http://www.htsoft.com for more info.

1997\11\13@191222 by Dave Mullenix

flavicon
face
People looking for an interesting perspective on patents and lawsuits should
check out Phil Karn's web page and see what he has to say on this subject:

http://people.qualcomm.com/karn/patents.html

Karn is a communications engineer specializing in digital communications.
He is also the man who maneuvered the US Department of Defense Trade
Controls into ruling that the book, "Applied Cryptography" by Bruce Schneier
is freely exportable from the US even though it contains complete source
code for several strong crytographic algorithms, but that a floppy disk
containing exactly the same source code isn't.

http://people.qualcomm.com/karn/export/index.html

Clearly not a man to be trifled with.

You might also check Don Lancaster's web page at:

http://www.tinaja.com/

According to Don, if you don't think you can make at least six million
dollars off your idea, don't bother patenting it because that's how much
you'll have to make so that your profits will equal what you will spend
getting and defending the patent.

Both men think that the patent system has degenerated into a device large
corporations use for restraining trade and stomping small operators into the
ground.

Dave, N9LTD

1997\11\14@060306 by Mike Smith

flavicon
face
-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Warren <fastfwdspamBeGonespamIX.NETCOM.COM>
To: RemoveMEPICLIST@spam@spamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU <.....PICLIST@spam@spamEraseMEMITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Date: Wednesday, 12 November 1997 16:07
Subject: Re: Microchip sues Scenix and parallax


Tjaart van der Walt <.....tjaartRemoveMEspamwasp.co.za> wrote:

> You should see the patents that Mchip hold. Brownout, Power-up timer
> etc. I think this is probably what Mchip is sueing for.

   You're correct, Tjaart... The six patents referenced in the suit
   are:

       5473758:  System having input output pins shifting between
                 programming mode and normal mode to program memory
                 without dedicating input output pins for
                 programming mode


AFAIK, Motorola 68705's do this.

       5606511:  Microcontroller with brownout detection

       5454114:  Microcontroller power-up delay

       5033025:  On-chip register setting and clearing

       5469557:  Code protection in microcontroller with EEPROM
                 fuses

Is this unique?  What does the fuse material matter? (other than being the
same as the main code memory)

       5446864:  System and method for protecting contents of
                 microcontroller memory by providing scrambled data
                 in response to an unauthorized read access without
                 alteration of the memory contents

> I just hope that whatever Scenix did to get 100Mips out of a flash
> chip, is protected by the same patent system that prevents Scenix
> from using on-chip brownout protection.

   A search of IBM's patent server (whose database is current as of
   4 November 1997) shows NO patents EVER assigned to Scenix
   Semiconductor, Inc.

They could be using non-patentable methods, and prefer trade secrets stuff
to cover them.

MikeS
<.....mikesmith_ozSTOPspamspam@spam@relaymail.net>

1997\11\14@064046 by Mike Smith

flavicon
face
-----Original Message-----
From: Tjaart van der Walt <tjaartEraseMEspam@spam@wasp.co.za>
To: RemoveMEPICLISTspamspamBeGoneMITVMA.MIT.EDU <spamBeGonePICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Date: Thursday, 13 November 1997 15:55
Subject: Re: Microchip sues Scenix and parallax


{Quote hidden}

<snick!>  - You tell em Tjaart!  When you suggested going private on a
different Scenix issue before, this list gave you hell!!

{Quote hidden}

Nor anyone investing the big $$$ needed to set up and produce said product.

>
>On the other hand, it would be stupid of Mchip to NOT sue Scenix at
>this point (even if the infringements are immaginary), because they
>are also trying to get flash chips into the middle end (sic) market.

Yeah.  I suspect they, like Intel, do it as a delaying action.  I wonder how
many million are budgeted for making a nuisance of themselves in the courts?

>
>Time is everything in our game.
>
>Bearing in mind the similarities between PICs and the Scenix chips,
>having a separate list would only benefit no-one but Mchip.
>

Its even a useful list for ATMEL.

>--
>Friendly Regards

MikeS
<spamBeGonemikesmith_oz@spam@spamrelaymail.net>

1997\11\14@152926 by J.Adams

picon face
...On we go with the Patent lawsuit discussion.

My thoughts open for roasting:

And we wonder why technology does not advance faster?
Scenix will have a better, faster product.  This is the
whole idea of invention.  It is the basis of the computer
industry.  So what if they use principles that are now
common knowledge.  The point is THEY HAVE A BETTER PRODUCT!
Maybe it will scare Microchip into advancing faster.
We are the ones to gain in this. We will get faster chips
and cheaper prices with competition.

Don Lancaster has quite a section on his website about
the trouble with the patent system if anyone is interested.
Here is an interesting quote that applies...
"A third is that the economic breakeven needed to recover
patent costs is something between $12,000,000.00 and
$40,000,000 in gross sales.  It is ludicrously absurd to
try and patent a million dollar idea."

http://www.tinaja.com/patnt01.html

Either way, Microchip is correct in sueing, yet stupid in
doing so.  Instead, they should spend that money in R&D to
come out with a 50 MIPS processor!

John Adams


John Adams ------- http://pobox.com/~electronics ---------
RemoveMEelectronicsEraseMEspamKILLspampobox.com
Check out the H.W.S Internet Guide to Electronics book as well. Links on my
site

1997\11\14@155620 by Roger Books

flavicon
face
> Either way, Microchip is correct in sueing, yet stupid in
> doing so.  Instead, they should spend that money in R&D to
> come out with a 50 MIPS processor!

Which can then have the technology/R&D money ripped off by some
third party for 3-5% of the original cost.  Mchip has to recover
their R&D so they have to charge more than the company that did
no R&D.  The market would say the company that did no R&D should
get the business, bang, MChip is out of business.  Companies that
do R&D lose in the marketplace to those that steal ideas.

Litigate or loose.  The goal of litigation is NOT to make money
from the suit.  It is to make sure the other company does not
make a profit from your R&D.

Now as for wether the Scenix suit is valid, I haven't a clue.
I'm not a lawyer involved in the case or an Mchip/Scenix engineer.

Just a sysadmin

Roger

1997\11\16@083013 by Tom Mariner

flavicon
face
>
> I thought that to obtain or uphold a patent, one had only to prove that
> their idea was not common knowledge and was not in common usage at the
> time of the patent application. I didn't think that it mattered if there
> was prior artwork which was only known to a few people. If this were the
> case, most patents could be contested because most inventions are
> "re-invented" by several people and only one or a few ultimately decice to
> pursue it and get a patent.
>
Patents are only invented once and therefore any prior art forever precludes a
patent issue. The "reinvention" that you mention is really a combinatorial
patent (virtually all patents fall under this) that combines SOME of the
claims of multiple patents. If it performed all of the claims, it would be
infringing. A patent also has to fall into a statutory class and be useful.

Tom

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