Computer Automation Inc, Irvine, California is determined that no-one will clone IBM’s Micro Channel architecture without paying the former minimaker a royalty on a key patent to which IBM took a licence prior to the PS/2 launch last year. The key patent is on an Automatic Modular Memory Address Allocation System, US Patent RE31,318, which the company and industry observers believe to be an important, if not indispensable, element in the Micro Channel. And anyone thinking of cloning the PS/2 needs to act fast – Computer Automation is offering a discount to those who sign a licence agreement before All Fools’ Day, April 1. It warns that manufacturers who may have obtained Micro Channel related licences from IBM or relied on IBM’s published design specifications did not secure any rights under the patent, which relates to add-on memory devices providing output signals indicating the memory capacity of the device, and to processors using the data to determine total available memory space. Add-on memory boards are likely to infringe the patent.
Charges are a non-refundable advance of $25,000 for low volume, $300,000 for high volume, Continuing royalties for low volume range from $5 per down to $2 per unit for processors, $26 per unit to $12 per unit for systems; and $5 to $2 per megabyte of memory for add-on memory boards. High volume royalties go from $2.50 to $1 per unit for processors; $13 to $6 per unit for systems; and $2.50 to $1 per Mb for memory boards. Before April 1, there are concessions on infringements prior to January 1.