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Intellectual Ventures settles patent case against Altera

By Dan Levine

(Reuters) - Intellectual Ventures has settled a patent lawsuit against chipmaker Altera Corp, leaving Xilinx Inc as the only remaining defendant in a case in which IV had claimed infringement by four semiconductor companies, according to court documents.

Intellectual Ventures, which has purchased billions of dollars worth of patents, sued Altera for patent infringement in December 2010. Three other chipmakers were also defendants in the lawsuit, including Xilinx, which is also an IV investor.

According to documents filed this week in federal court in Delaware, Altera and Intellectual Ventures agreed to dismiss all claims against each other. The terms of the deal, including any potential patent licenses, were not disclosed in the filings.

IV had previously announced settlements with Lattice Semiconductor Corp and Microsemi Corp.

Melissa Finocchio, IV's chief litigation counsel, said in a statement on Friday that the company continues to pursue discussions with Xilinx. A Xilinx representative declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Altera.

IV, founded in 2000, has raised about $6 billion from investors and says it creates an organized mechanism for innovators to capitalize on their ideas. However, critics in the technology industry say patent litigation and royalty payments have become a burdensome tax on innovation, and that firms such as IV that do not primarily make products are taking advantage of the system.

In October, sources told Reuters that Intellectual Ventures had curtailed its patent buying while it tried to raise another $3 billion. They said the company had pushed back the closing dates on some patent deals and bowed out of others.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at making it harder for patent assertion entities to file lawsuits. In the Senate, Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, have introduced a similar bill. A Senate hearing on the issue is scheduled for next week.

The case in U.S. District Court, District of Delaware is Intellectual Ventures I LLC and Intellectual Ventures II LLC vs. Altera Corp et al., 10-1065.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andre Grenon)

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