Compaq sued for $60m over video patent

Apple, HP and Dell taken to task too

Compaq has been slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit demanding at least $60 million in damages.

The patents cover the compression of video data, and the plaintiff is a consortium of seven companies, including consumer electronics operations JVC and Matsushita. The seven filed the suit in the US District Court of Wilmington, Delaware last week. Six of the companies also filed a parallel suit in Germany.

Both suits seek to stop Compaq selling PCs containing technology which allegedly violate patents owned by the seven companies.

And Compaq isn't the only supposed infringer - Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are at it as well, the seven claim. However, Compaq is the fall guy - while it has been hit with a $60 million lawsuit, the others have merely been asked to license the patents in question.

It's hard to see what these four computer companies have in common, or at least that they don't also share with every other PC vendor. Support for IEEE 1394, perhaps?

Any technology involving the compression of video on a Compaq PC is likely to come from a third-party. If it's software, you'd have thought that its means Microsoft or whoever supplied the bundled application the handles the compression; if it's hardware, it's whoever supplied the graphics card. As we get more information, we'll let you know. ®

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