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HP sues Gateway over patents

A first for the company

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HP is taking action against Gateway, the rival PC maker, for alleged infringement of six patents. Gateway says it will defend itself "vigorously".

The suit, filed on Wednesday, 24 March, in San Diego, is a first for HP since it formed an intellectual property department last year, The LA Times reports. It accuses Gateway of infringing patents over
power management, keyboard-password functions and cursor-generation, according to reports.

Joe Beyers, HP's vice-president for intellectual property licensing, told the LA Times that the action was prompted by Gateway's refusal to rewew a technology license it had signed with Compaq, bought by HP in 2002, which expired in 1999.

HP has around 6,000 patents but like most of the big computer firms, has been slow in the past to go to litigation, especially against another big player (even if Gateway is rather smaller than it was). In the computer industry, patent banks are used as much for defence as for attack - you sue me and I sure as hell will sure you back.

This pattern of Mutually Assured Litigation has kept legal actions in check. But with even HP going on the attack, it looks like the old understanding has broken down, probably for good. ®

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