Patent litigation suits in the chip world are not confined to the glamorous high-end CPU market, and now 8-bit microcontroller and serial EEPROM memory king Microchip Technology Inc has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against its rivals Scenix Semiconductor Inc and Parallax Inc. Scenix, of Santa Clara, California, and Parallax, of Rocklin, California, are alleged to have infringed six patents owned by Microchip, and the company is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and unspecified damages. Privately held Scenix launched its first product, the 50MHz SX 8-bit microcontroller, in August, claiming it to be the world’s fastest. It designed the SX as an object-code superset of Microchip’s PIC16C5x, designed to work in applications, a strategy meant to help customers upgrade from PIC chips to the SX. Parallax Inc is a partner of Scenix and produces a development toolkit for the part. Chandler, Arizona-based Microchip, which claims to have shipped 500 million PIC microcontroller units and 100,000 development kits, has not taken kindly to the strategy. With its products mostly used behind the scenes as embedded applications, Microchip has traditionally kept a low profile, but more recently has become interested in protecting its intellectual property. In July it filed suit against Lucent Technologies Inc over alleged patent infringements (CI No 3,212).
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