DALLAS -- Texas Instruments Inc. claimed last week that on of its engineers was the first inventor of a computer that could be placed on a single microchip.
The claim challenges a highly publicized patent awarded last July to an unknown California entrepreneur, Gilbert P. Hyatt.
Although TI said it primarily wants to set the record straight, the winner of the legal battle could reap tens of millions of dollars in royalties from makers of products ranging from computer keyboards to videocassette recorders.
The issue will be resolved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which said it had begun a trial-like proceeding known as an "interference" to determine whether Mr. Hyatt or Gary W. Boone, the TI engineer, was the first to invent the specialized chip.
"We believe that the upcoming interference investigation by the U.S. Patent Office will determine that Mr. Boone of TI is the first and original inventor of the single-chip microcomputer," Melvin Sharp, TI's patent counsel, said in a prepared statement.