The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s research arm has sued computer chip maker Intel Corp., claiming the company violated the university’s patents in making the popular Core 2 Duo processor.

The federal lawsuit, filed last week, alleges that researchers at the university created technology used in the processor to increase its speed and efficiency, and Intel should have obtained a licensing agreement to use the technology.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), a private, nonprofit patent-management organization that supports research and controls the university’s patents, filed the lawsuit. It claims the computer chip’s microarchitecture infringes on a 1998 patent based on work by four researchers, including Gurindar S. Sohi, chair of the university’s computer science department.

“The technology of the UW-Madison researchers has been widely recognized in the field of computer architecture as a pioneering invention,” WARF’s attorney, Michael Falk, said.

WARF contacted Intel about the issue in 2001 and repeatedly offered the company legal licensing opportunities for the technology, Falk said.

But Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor company, started using the technology in the Core 2 Duo processor without a licensing deal, according to the lawsuit. The company also never told Sohi it was using the technology, the lawsuit says.

Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, said the lawsuit was being evaluated.

“We dispute their claims, and we certainly intend to conduct a vigorous defense,” Mulloy said.

Intel launched the Core 2 Duo microprocessors last summer. They reportedly deliver as much as 40 percent better performance while consuming up to 40 percent less power than previous models.

The lawsuit seeks a court order for Intel to stop selling the processor and pay damages and legal fees to the university foundation that sued. The foundation uses licensing fees to fund university research and said it also would apply any money it wins in the litigation to research.

Intel settled a similar case in October after trading accusations of patent infringement with Transmeta Corp. on products including Core and Pentium processors. It agreed to pay $250 million over five years to Transmeta, also based in Santa Clara, in exchange for the right to use patented Transmeta technologies in its chips for 10 years.

Links:

Intel Corp.

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation