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Handset maker licenses Moore Microprocessor patents

Posted: 08 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nokia license MMP? Patent Moore Microprocessor? MMP portfolio TPL?

Nokia has licensed the Moore Microprocessor Patent (MMP) portfolio from The TPL Group, making it the first mobile phone maker to enter into such an agreement. Financial arrangements of the deal were not disclosed.

Nokia becomes the 16th company to take a license of the technology according to Alliacense, the group responsible for managing the patents on behalf of the TPL Group and its partner Patriot Scientific Corp.

"The feature richness of mobile phones would not be possible without exploiting the design techniques engendered by the MMP Portfolio," said Mike Davis, Alliacense Senior VP of Licensing. "Such techniques are fundamental in the design of microprocessors and enable higher performance and lower cost in a host of digital products ranging from mobile phones and portable music players to communications infrastructure and medical equipment to automobiles, which today deploy dozens of microprocessors."

Nokia is not saying at this stage on exactly how it intends to use the technology.

TPL formed an alliance with Patriot in 2005 and pooled processor technology patents together in the "Moore Microprocessor Patent" portfolio, named after Charles H. Moore, chief technology officer of TPL Group, who is credited with inventing the Forth software programming language and is known for his work in the 1980s on stack-based microprocessors.

The portfolio includes seven U.S. patents, as well as their European and Japanese counterparts, which Patriot and The TPL Group have said they consider fundamental to the design of modern microprocessors, microcontrollers and system-on-chip devices.

Three of the patents are: U.S. Patent 5,809,336, which covers the separate clocking of a CPU and its I/O; U.S. Patent 6,598,148, which covers the use of multiple cores and embedded memory; and U.S. Patent 5,784,584, which covers fetching multiple instructions.

Patriot and TPL have licensed a number of companies to use the MMP portfolio. In February 2006, Patriot received $24 million as a result of processor licensing agreements with Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Since January 2006, Casio, Fujitsu, Sony, Nikon, Seiko Epson, Pentax, Olympus, Kenwood, Agilent, Lexmark, Schneider Electric, NEC Corp., Funai Electric, SanDisk and Sharp Corp. have all purchased MMP Portfolio licenses. The licensing program rewards early movers in specific industry segments by subjecting subsequent licensees in those same segments to progressively higher royalty rates.

Patriot and the TPL Group have been generally tight lipped about the financial terms of MMP portfolio licensing agreements. However, in a regulatory filing made last June, Patriot revealed that Intel paid $10 million in a one off payment to license the portfolio, while rival AMD paid $2.95 million.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe




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