The ranks of combatants in the long litigious hardware emulation segment of the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry moved up to heavyweight class today, with the disclosure that Synopsys Inc. will be taking on Mentor Graphics, in a patent lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA on September 27th. As first reported by EDA industry veteran John Cooley, in an email to subscribers of his DeepChip.com website, Synopsys filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, on the same day as they entered into an agreement to acquire Emulation and Verification Engineering (EVE), producer of the ZeBu ASIC emulator systems.
On September 27, 2012, Synopsys, Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire the
business of EVE, including the ZeBu Products. (source: U.S. District Court for Northern California Complaint No. 12-5025)
Following in the same venue as Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al., Synopsys has requested a jury trial for a Declaratory Judgment of Invalidity on three U.S. Patents, which Mentor Graphics has alleged are being infringed by EVE.
Mentor Graphics has alleged that the ZeBu line of hardware-assisted verification products, which are manufactured, imported, sold and offered for sale by EVE (hereinafter the 19 "ZeBu Products"), infringe the '531, '176 and '376 patents. (source: U.S. District Court for Northern California Complaint No. 12-5025)Synopsys is also requesting a Declaratory Judgment of Non-Infringement of these patents, which would clear the way for their acquisition of EVE, and an injunction against Mentor Graphics that would prohibit them from taking any action that would inhibit Synopsys' ability to conduct the sale of EVE's products.
Entry of preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Defendant, its officers, agents, servants, employees, licensees and attorneys and those persons in active concert or participation with them and all others in privity therewith
(a) from initiating or prosecuting any lawsuit or proceeding placing at issue the right of Plaintiffs, their customers, licensees, successors, assigns and all others in privity therewith, to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import Plaintiffs' products, with respect to the '531, '176 and '376 patents
(b) from interfering with or threatening to interfere with the manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use or importation of Plaintiffs' products by Plaintiffs, or each of them, or any of their customers, licensees, dealers, agents, servants, or employees, or any prospective or present sellers, dealers, or users of Plaintiffs' products, and all others in privity therewith, with respect to the '531, '176 and '376 patents;
and (c) from making any claim to any person or entity that Plaintiffs' products infringe the '531, '176 27 and '376 patents, said injunction to be made permanent following trial.
(source: U.S. District Court for Northern California Complaint No. 12-5025)In their complaint, Synopsys alleges that, upon learning of Synopsys' plan to acquire EVE, Mentor Graphics Chairman and CEO Dr. Walden C. Rhines issued "an explicit threat" to sue Synopsys for patent infringement.
On August 20,2012, Dr. Walden C. Rhines, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mentor Graphics, wrote to Dr. Aart de Geus, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Synopsys, Inc. In reference to a published rumor that Synopsys, Inc. was in discussions to acquire the business of EVE, Dr. Rhines stated that the settlement agreement entered into between Mentor Graphics and EVE in 2006 contains terms that may be considered "material" to the acquisition, and that Dr. de Geus "should ensure [his] team is aware" of them. (source: U.S. District Court for Northern California Complaint No. 12-5025)The 531, '176 and '376 patents which are the subject of the complaint are:
- U.S. Patent Number 6,009,531, Assignee Ikos Systems, Inc.: TRANSITION ANALYSIS AND CIRCUIT RESYNTHESIS METHOD AND DEVICE FOR DIGITAL CIRCUIT MODELING
- U.S. Patent Number 5,649,176, Assignee Virtual Machine Works, Inc.:TRANSITION ANALYSIS AND CIRCUIT RESYNTHESIS METHOD AND DEVICE FOR DIGITAL CIRCUIT MODELING
- U.S. Patent Number 6,240,376, Assignee Mentor Graphics Corporation, METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR GATE-LEVEL SIMULATION OF SYNTHESIZED REGISTER TRANSFER LEVEL DESIGNS WITH SOURCE-LEVEL DEBUGGING
Both Synopsys and Mentor Graphics have declined to comment on this lawsuit. Synopsys is represented by the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. EVE is a co-plaintiff with Synopsys, and is represented by the law firm Cooley LLC. We are not aware of any connection between the law firm, and John Cooley of Deepchip.com.
Rumors of Synopsys' intent to acquire EVE have been circulating in Silicon Valley since as early as mid-August. The acquisition would continue a string of purchases that the company has made over the last year, and fill one of the few remaining gaps in Synopsys' product portfolio, giving the largest EDA vendor a competitive offering to Mentor's Veloce family, and Cadence Design Systems' Palladium platform.