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What Is Patriot's Game?

A minor player in the microprocessor industry is suing big users of Intel's chips for hundreds of millions, but it can't even get in the courtroom door

5 min read

7 July 2004--You may be forgiven for never having heard of Patriot Scientific, of San Diego. The seven-person firm has been losing money for more than a decade and has made an unremarkable journey from being a developer of ground-penetrating radar to being a minor microprocessor designer. But along the way, it believes it picked up the ownership of the clocking technology that runs nearly every microprocessor operating faster than 120 MHz--a cutting-edge speed way back in the early 1990s. The company estimates that US $18 billion worth of chips with its technology were sold in the United States last year alone.

In the last several months Patriot sued five Japanese electronics giants for hundreds of millions of dollars and has told more than 150 other companies that their products might be infringing on Patriot's patent. But during its quest for cash the company discovered that it may not have full control over the patent after all. The technology's coinventor, software maverick Charles H. Moore, and his representatives may have the power to block the company, potentially preventing a river of money from flowing from some of the best known computer companies to Patriot.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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