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December 8, 2007

Big Iron

IBM used to be known as a supreme hardball player, even fending off a Justice Department antitrust suit. In present time, its increasing reliance on services has been an impetus to soften its public image. Its public patent stance is similar, recently espousing eschewing business method patents, which are subject to especial derision by the software companies that IBM has for its client base, as they are generally a threat. IBM terms such patents "soft," while continuing pursuit of that ilk deemed most significant. The anti-patent puttyheads may be fooled by IBM's feints, but make no mistake: IBM is still a hardball player. This week it filed against Taiwan-based ASUS, makers of excellent computer equipment, particularly motherboards, at the ITC, whose only remedy to offer is injunctive relief.

The asserted: 5,008,829 - "Personal computer power supply"; 5,249,741 - "Automatic fan speed control"; and 5,371,852 - "Method and apparatus for making a cluster of computers appear as a single host on a network".

IBM claims the to have been in talks with ASUS since a licensing agreement lapsed in 2004. "They are very familiar with this," IBM chirped. "We have talked with them [for a] number of years about this issue." ASUS replied, "Investigation by our US-based patent lawyers showed that there is no evidence of our violating IBM patents, and these patents maybe do not exist," meaning, exist as valid.

Similarly, HP has put the patent sword to Acer, which has counterthrust with its own patents.

ASUS was started by four engineers from Acer in 1989, and has grown to be one of the world's leading computer and computer parts companies, with 2006 revenues of $17.4 billion.

Acer and ASUS have bedeviled HP & IBM by gaining market share against them. The patent suits are a reaction.

Posted by Patent Hawk at December 8, 2007 12:12 AM | Patents In Business

Comments

I'm very skeptical of writers that use the term "patent troll" to defame smaller business interests. The right to a patent is a right given by the Constitution and Congress, to all citizens, and not just individuals with the means to manufacture or heavily market their product.

-Ben at http://windycityip.com

Posted by: Ben at December 8, 2007 11:47 AM

Readers should always be skeptical when big business denounces the patent system.

-Ben at http://windycityip.com/

Posted by: Ben at December 8, 2007 11:48 AM

Ben:

What writer (here) used the term "patent troll," other than you?

Posted by: Anon at December 10, 2007 10:46 AM