Google Settles Potential $1.6B Lawsuit Over AI Chip Patent

The infringement case focused on a Massachusetts-based firm that said Google used its proprietary tech for AI features in Google Search, Gmail, and more.

Shane Snider , Senior Writer, InformationWeek

January 24, 2024

2 Min Read
Gavel in hand against the background of Google technology company logo.
stLegat via Alamy Stock

Alphabet’s Google on Wednesday settled a patent infringement lawsuit focused on chips powering the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology. While the suit sought $1.67 billion, the full settlement amount was not disclosed.

Singular Computing, a Massachusetts hardware and software firm, said in the 2019 lawsuit that Google appropriated its computer-processing innovations into its AI offerings found in Google Search, Gmail, Google Translate and more Google services.

Google started using the pressing units in question in 2016 in AI used for content creation, speech recognition, ad targeting and more. The company, which develops and licenses hardware and software for high performance energy efficient computing, claims that versions of the processing units Google introduced in 2017 and 2018 violated its patent rights.

Kerry Timbers, a lawyer for Singular Computing founder Joseph Bates, offered opening arguments on Jan. 9 that Google copied Singular’s technology after meeting with him several times between 2010 and 2014 to discuss AI development. “This case is about something we all learned a long time ago: respect for others, don’t take what doesn’t belong to you, and give credit where credit is due,” Timbers told the jury.

Court documents show internal emails from Google’s chief scientist Jeff Dean, who wrote that Bates’ ideas would be “really well suited” for Google’s AI development.

Related:Google Enters GenAI Arms Race With Gemini

Google’s lawyer, Robert Van Nest, argued that employees who designed the chips never met with Bates and worked independently. “Google’s chips are fundamentally different, fundamentally different, than what is described in Singular’s patents,” he told jurors.

The settlement came on the day closing arguments were scheduled to begin.

The rapid rise of AI technology over the last year has led to a race to develop more efficient chips meant to handle the power-hungry workloads of AI. ChatGPT parent OpenAI has announced plans to design and manufacture its own AI chips. Intel, Nvidia and AMD are all locked in a battle to claim AI semiconductor dominance.

InformationWeek has reached out to Google and Singular Computing for comments.

About the Author(s)

Shane Snider

Senior Writer, InformationWeek, InformationWeek

Shane Snider is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his career as a general assignment reporter and has covered government, business, education, technology and much more. He was a reporter for the Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh News and Observer and most recently a tech reporter for CRN. He was also a top wedding photographer for many years, traveling across the country and around the world. He lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children.

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