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Using Owned Media as ...

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Owned media has come a long way since serving as the platform of choice to highlight the availability of vegan options at the corporate café.

Google’s decision to communicate its exit from the China market was a turning point. When Google published a blog post with the no-frills headline, “A New Approach to China,” on January 12, 2010, it legitimized owned media as an alternative to third-party media for communicating to the outside world.

This dynamic has now evolved to the point where brands depend on owned media to fight back against injustice often in the form of unflattering media coverage. That’s how Walmart and the Brookings Institution both punched back at The New York Times.

Brookings rebuts New York Times

Companies also use owned media to send a message to the marketplace, as demonstrated by Intel earlier this month.

Intel decided to serve notice that those infringing on its x86 intellectual property will face consequences. Of course, Intel does not want to come across as heavy-handed to consumers — this shot across the bow is probably intended for just one company — so it dressed up a blog post as “nothing says computing for the masses like the x86 architecture.”

With this in mind, the first 762 words ring as a kumbaya homage to the x86 architecture touching on scintillating areas like multigeneration SIMD performance, scalability and encryption.

Then, we get to the good stuff, the point of the post.

Let’s break down this passage.
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Protecting x86 ISA Innovation

Intel invests enormous resources to advance its dynamic x86 ISA, and therefore Intel must protect these investments with a strong patent portfolio and other intellectual property rights. The following graph shows that relentless instruction set innovation translates into a deep and dynamic patent portfolio with over 1,600 patents worldwide relating to instruction set implementations.

Intel x86 graph
Commentary: Lest people perceive Intel as a patent troll, the company makes a case that advancing the technology to the tune of 1,600 patents calls for deep pockets. The days of engineers working for pizza ended with the invention of horseshoes.

Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them. Over the past 30 years, Intel has vigilantly enforced its intellectual property rights against infringement by third-party microprocessors. One of the earliest examples, was Intel’s enforcement of its seminal “Crawford ’338 Patent.” In the early days of our microprocessor business, Intel needed to enforce its patent rights against various companies including United Microelectronics Corporation, Advanced Micro Devices, Cyrix Corporation, Chips and Technologies, Via Technologies, and, most recently, Transmeta Corporation. Enforcement actions have been unnecessary in recent years because other companies have respected Intel’s intellectual property rights.

Commentary: In case the phrase “vigilantly enforced” doesn’t register, Intel rewinds the tape to show its track record of crushing those who dare to encroach on the company’s patents. Love the last line in this graph: “Enforcement actions have been unnecessary in recent years because other companies have respected Intel’s intellectual property rights.” In other words, if you behave, we behave.

However, there have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel’s proprietary x86 ISA without Intel’s authorization. Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation (“code morphing”) techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta’s x86 implementation even though it used emulation. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago.

Commentary: Now comes the message. If you think that emulating the x86 approach is a loophole in our patent portfolio, think again. Nice touch to close this graph with the point that Transmeta thought the same thing and went out of business 10 years ago.

Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel’s x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel’s microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel’s x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights. Strong intellectual property protections make it possible for Intel to continue to invest the enormous resources required to advance Intel’s dynamic x86 ISA, and Intel will maintain its vigilance to protect its innovations and investments.

Commentary: My high school English teacher might deem that the phrase, “We do not welcome unlawful infringement,” as a double negative. Regardless, Intel hammers home the message that this is about being able to pay for innovation, not litigating over patents. We also see the word “vigilance” surface again, leaving no doubt of Intel’s intentions.

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I initially came cross the Intel post on LinkedIn via Nathan Brookwood, an industry analyst who knows his way around the Intel corridors. Nathan was not amused, writing:

“It’s too bad Chuck Mulloy, Intel’s former PR guy for corporate affairs, has retired. He would never have let the company make a preemptive heavy-handed threat like this in a public forum. It’s neither nice nor good business to publicly threaten companies like Microsoft and Qualcomm who have legal staffs at least as large as Intel’s.”

I disagree.

There has always been a brass-knuckles quality to Intel’s communications, and that includes during Chuck Mulloy’s time. Chuck got a taste of being on the receiving end during his time at AMD.

I also think that Intel, along with GE, set the bar when it comes to communications in the B2B sphere. It’s not easy to construct a brand from one of most technical products on the planet — transistors — and find a way to connect with the average person.

As noted earlier, it’s possible that this particular Intel post was crafted for an audience of one, perhaps a startup or ARM embolden by SoftBank’s war chest. Who knows?

But I have no problem with Intel’s tactic to serve notice through a poorly camouflaged narrative on its corporate blog.

If there’s an announcement in the coming weeks about a new challenger in the x86 space, you’ll know the message was ignored.

Either way, game on.


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