Chandra Lye Jan. 10, 2017, 8:05pm


SAN FRANCISCO — A district court has dismissed a dispute over a copyright infringement between tech companies Synopsis and ATopTech.

Court documents from the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California show that Synopsys, a global software company, first filed a complaint in November 2013 where it alleged that ATopTech had infringed on its patent.

The dispute was over software tools that were used in the design of integrated circuits as both companies produce software for the place-and-route function in computer-chip design. Their software plans the layout and electrical connections between the chip’s components. In a news release, Synopsis claimed ATopTech had used their PrimeTime command set in the Aprisa product. Synopsys submitted the same claims in the First Supplemental Amended Complaint that was filed in January 2016.

In its defense, according to justia.com, ATopTech based their claim on that fact that both companies had entered products in a Broadcom Corporation competition. Aprisa won the competition and ATopTech pointed out that Synopsys must have figured it out as Broadcom was a major customer to them.

In March 2016, a jury granted Synopsys $30.4 million in damages. At that time, ATopTech announced its plans to contest the verdict.

At the end of July, the court held a bench trial regarding ATopTech’s affirmative defense of equitable estoppel, court documents stated. Court findings were issued in October.

In the end, the claims were dismissed with prejudice on Dec. 28, and each side agreed to pay their own fees and costs associated to the claim.

Earlier in December, the court had issued a permanent injunction against ATopTech, which prohibited the company from developing, using, selling, offering to sell, licensing or distributing any product that has PrimeTime report formats, some non-SDC commands, variables or attributes. The company was also ordered to stop offering support for these products after March 2017.

Copyright expert and attorney Erik Syverson of Raines Felman LLP said these types of cases were becoming more and more common.

“Especially in light of reforms in patent law that make it very difficult to protect software products with patents,” Syverson told The Northern California Record.

“Copyright becomes a very effective and much cheaper way to protect rights in software.”

Syverson said there was nothing outstanding about the dispute between Synopsis and ATopTech.

“It looks like the jury or court found liability and damages so naturally, a permanent injunction should issue,” he said, adding it seemed like the correct outcome.

Synopsys is the 15th-largest software company globally, according to a news release. It works in electronic design automation and semiconductor IP. According to the company's website, the company's customers are Silicon Valley companies who develop smart software.

ATopTech Inc. works in physical-design solutions, according to its website. Experts in electronic-design automation physical-design founded it in 2004.

Syverson was named a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to his profile on raineslaw.com. He earned his law degree from Loyola Law School in 2002 and has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Michigan.

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
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San Francisco, CA 94102

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