Hardware and software development company Singular Computing has received an undisclosed sum from Google in a Massachusetts federal court settlement, ending the five-year civil case brought on by Singular’s founder Dr. Joseph Bates had filed against the tech giant for patent infringement (PDF, hosted by The register).
The said infringement relates to the facilitation of computer architectures artificial intelligence (AI) tool. development and training of large language models (LLMs) invented by Bates, which he claims have found their way into Google’s Tensor Processing Unit devices.
These initially powered the generative AI and smart chip features in Google Workspace, but are now available for rental via the cloud hosting provider Google Cloud, and also takes on the workload of the tech giant’s own data centers.
These were the facts
Of course, an out-of-court settlement in itself is not an admission of wrongdoing, precisely because such settlements are a means for both parties to avoid a lawsuit and therefore a ruling in favor of both parties. Google has not made any statement indicating any wrongdoing on its part, so we know as much about it as you do.
Still, it’s clear that Singular Computing has the advantage. According to the filing, Bates “prayed for the court to grant a jury trial and award damages” as proposed in pre-trial declarations (another Reg-hosted PDF, cheers mate) within the range of $1.6 billion and $5.19 billion US dollars. That, ladies, gentlemen, and those who define themselves, is trust, and it seems to be paying off (!!).
From the outset of the case, Google has denied knowledge of Bates’ three relevant US patents (8407273B2, 9218156B2 And 10416961B2) and the technology therein, which allows many low-precision calculations per processor cycle, and “I was looking forward to setting the record straight in court”.
Even now, Google spokesperson José Castañeda remains tight-lipped, saying only, “We have always taken our disclosure obligations seriously and we will continue to do so.” That’s a very well-worded sentence designed to mean whatever you, the reader, want it to mean, so we’ll leave it at that.
Less cryptic, however, is a comment from senior Google scientist Jeff Dean, who wrote to colleagues in an internal email following Singular’s complaint that Bates’ inventions were “well suited” to Google’s workload. While this is certainly “rum,” to use the precise legal term, it’s still not an admission: Google went further, and likely continues to maintain, that no one actually working on its TPUs had access to Bates’ designs.
Representatives for Singular did not comment after the settlement. causing a trial that was expected to last weeks to be shortened with prejudice, meaning it is extremely unlikely that the case could be refiled by either party in the near future.