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MS springs patent complaint on Taiwanese mouse vendor

Redmond whacks Primax

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Microsoft yesterday filed a patent infringement complaint against a Taiwanese computer peripherals vendor after talks on a licensing agreement for mouse technology stalled.

The software giant said that over the past few years it has made “repeated attempts” to strike a licensing deal with Primax Electronics Ltd, which according to its website manufactures imaging products, computer peripherals, office equipment and comms devices.

“Microsoft has an open intellectual property licensing policy, but in situations such as this, in which a reasonable licensing agreement cannot be reached despite our best efforts, we have no choice but to pursue legal action to protect our innovations,” said Redmond general IP and licensing counsel Horacio Gutierrez.

The company, which is usually on the receiving end of lawsuits, filed the action with the International Trade Commission (ITC) over Primax’s alleged failure to take part in Microsoft’s hardware licensing program for its U2, Tilt Wheel and Magnifier technologies.

Gutierrez said: “Primax’s practice of using our innovations without taking a patent license is unfair to the many companies that have already licensed our technology, so we are taking action to protect both our partners and our innovations.”

According to Bloomberg the complaint targets mice sold alone or with keyboards under the Dynex and Rocketfish names and available at electronics stores including those of US retail giant Best Buy.

In December, Primax reported sales of NT$16.06bn ($520m) from January to November 2007. The company was founded in 1984 and has subsidiaries in the US, Hong Kong, Japan and China. There has been no activity on the Primax website since late last year when the firm was delisted from Taiwan's stock exchange on 5 December 2007.

ITC, whose case details against "the proposed respondent" Primax can be viewed here, protects US markets from unfair trade practices. It also has the authority to block imports of products found to infringe US patents.

Primax could not be reached at time of writing. ®

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