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U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Announces Re-examination of Patent in Lawsuit

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Business Wire reports that the United States Patent & Trademark Office will reexamine U.S. Patent No. 6,725,438.  This patent is one of three at issue in a lawsuit between Magma Design Automation, Inc. and Synopsys, Inc., pending in the U.S. District Court in the Northern DIstrict of California.

In light of this decision, the USPTO is currently in the process of reexamining two of the three patents in the lawsuit and will soon render a decision as to whether a rexamination of the third will occur.

The USPTO is already reexamining U.S. Patent 6,376,114, and rejected all 15 claims in that patent last August.  The USPTO was asked to reexamine the third patent, U.S. Patent 6,453,446, along with Patent 6,725,238 to determine whether or not it will continue with the reexamination of Patent 6,453,446 by February 10, 2007.

The ownership of all three patents was the subject of a trial in 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  During the trial, Synopsys claimed sole ownership of the patents, while Magma asserted that the patents are jointly owned by IBM as the result of a joint development project.  The Court has not yet issued a ruling on the ownership issue.

This California lawsuit is one of two patent litigations between Magma and Synopsys.  In the other case, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Synopsys claimed Magma infringed on three additional patents.  After discovery had taken place, it revealed prior art that Synopsys had failed to disclose when it applied for two of those patents.  Synopsys dropped these two patents.  Consequently, all but one of the six patents Synopsys claimed were infringed upon in California and Delaware are in some form of reexamination or potential reexamination, if not yet abandoned outright.

Synopsys is also defending itself againsts claims that it violated U.S. antitrust law in Delaware.

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