Filed in Eastern District of Texas, the suit alleges that the Cell processor used in the PlayStation 3 console infringes upon patent 5,056,000, for a "synchronized parallel processing with shared memory." The patent was granted in October 1991 to a company called International Parallel Machines, but Parallel Processing Corporation has filed the suit as the "exclusive licensee" of the technology.
Typically, the suit claims that Sony's use of the Cell processor is "causing irreparable harm and monetary damage," and seeks fees and damages as well as the recall and destruction of any and all Sony products that use the technology. Sony has thus far refused to comment.
The Cell microprocessor, developed jointly by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, combines a general-purpose processor core with various specialized coprocessors, resulting in greatly enhanced performance in multimedia applications and other forms of computation. The PlayStation 3 was the first mainstream commercial application of the processor, and both Toshiba and IBM have announced plans to use it in their own hardware in the future.
"Patent trolling" is a derogatory term for companies or individuals who launch opportunistic lawsuits based around technologies they have no intention of developing. The Eastern District of Texas has developed a reputation for favoring plaintiffs in such suits, which often leads to out-of-court settlements even in lawsuits that lack merit.