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11 June 2024PatentsMuireann Bolger

Microsoft sued by supercomputer ‘creator’ over AI architecture

ParTec CEO Bernhard Frohwitter targets tech giant over technology used in cloud computing platform Azure | Suit follows Google’s historic settlement with an AI software company earlier this year.

Microsoft is facing a lawsuit from the brainchild behind a series of ‘supercomputers’ alleging that its Azure artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure infringes a trio of patents.

ParTec and its licensing agent BF exaQC filed the complaint yesterday, June 10, at the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The dispute concerns ParTec patents relating to a dynamic modular system architecture (DMSA) that the German company developed and uses worldwide in the construction of powerful AI-supercomputers.

A ‘novel’ system

Featuring in European supercomputers such as Leonardo in Bologna, Juwels and Jupiter in Jülich or Meluxina in Luxembourg, the patented technology relates to ‘cluster computing’, or resource management technology, that reduces the amount of power required while maximising computation speed.

This architecture, said the complaint, results from more than a decade of research and has been developed as “a novel system design”.

Partec is seeking an injunction against the use of the patented technology as well as licensing fees and compensation for damages.

In a statement, Bernhard Frohwitter, CEO of ParTec AG and BF exaQC AG, said: “Microsoft is infringing our intellectual property with its wave of AI supercomputers as part of their cloud computing platform Azure. We have therefore decided to file a lawsuit in Texas, US.”

Google settlement with Singular

The complaint marks one of the few cases to date featuring patent infringement allegations against AI systems and large language models (LLMs) that centre wholly on software.

In the most notable case of late, Google settled a multi-billion-dollar case brought by Singular over two patents targeting high-performance processors in January this year— ending a five-year dispute over the computer architectures behind the AI tools and the training of LLMs used in Google’s Tensor Processing Unit devices.

ParTec and BF exaQC own approximately 150 patents and patent applications worldwide, of which one of the most important is ParTec’s DMSA patent, US patent number 10, 142, 156.

According to Partec, its architecture meets the complex requirements of massive computing power in AI such as training and inference, and is fundamental for the dynamic interaction of CPUs and GPUs and other processors in supercomputers.

Multi-million dollar deals

ParTec said that it is already negotiating with a well-known US chip manufacturer to license the patents, as well as US authorities over the construction of potentially the world‘s largest ‘exaFlop’ Supercomputer.

ParTec said that it had also licensed the patents in a deal worth millions in Europe for the construction of modular supercomputers.

Susman Godfrey, Capshaw Derieux and Ward, Smith & Hill are representing ParTec and BF exaQC.

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