Facing a possible legal battle with Intel over the release of its latest chipset, Via Technologies claims it has been unable to find evidence that Intel holds a patent for the 400MHz front-side bus used with the Pentium 4 processor.

This bus is the bone of contention between the firms, as it's the inclusion of the bus in chipsets that Intel is claiming requires its licence (and royalty payments).

The announcement comes as Via yesterday began shipping its Apollo P4X266 chipset for the Pentium 4, which supports DDR (double rata rate) memory, to motherboard makers in Taiwan.

Intel officials have repeatedly hinted at plans to take legal action against Via over the P4X266 because Via does not hold a licence for the 400MHz front-side bus.

"We haven't broken any patents," said Richard Brown, director of marketing at the Taipei-based PC chipset and processor vendor. "As far as we know we haven't infringed any of Intel's patents."

When asked whether Intel has a patent specific to the 400MHz front-side bus used with the Pentium 4, company spokesman Chuck Mulloy said, "There are patents associated with the product. Beyond that, I'm not going to say one way or another."

Mulloy also declined to comment on whether or not Intel plans to pursue legal action against Via. "We don't speculate on what we may or not do for legal activities," he said.

In addition, Via is offering to protect its customers from costs or damages related to legal action by Intel over the chipset, he said. "We will indemnify them against any costs should Intel decide to go along this route," he said.