Giant NEC Corp has refused to indemnify tiny Zilog Corp, Campbell, California against the consequences of a possible victory for Intel Corp in its copyright infringement suit over the NEC V-series microprocessors. Zilog has therefore stopped manufacturing the parts under its second source agreement with the Japanese company, and has launched a suit in San Jose Federal District Court seeking to have set aside the agreement under which it took second source rights to the V-series in settlement of a patent infringement suit it had brought against NEC over the Z80. Although Zilog has fabricated and sampled V20s and V30s equivalent to 8088s and 8086s – it has never marketed them because of the uncertainty caused by Intel’s lawsuit. Setting aside the 1984 settlement would reinstate Zilog’s $40m claim against NEC for infringing patents on the Z80. Although very small, Zilog is of course owned by the Exxon Enterprises arm of the oil giant, which has been trying to sell it for years.
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