HP sues Acer for patent infringement

Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest PC vendor, has launched legal action against its fastest growing rival, alleging the infringement of five patents.

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Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest PC vendor, has launched legal action against its fastest growing rival, alleging the infringement of five patents.

HP is seeking compensation from both Acer and a US subsidiary of the company.

HP alleges that the Taiwanese company knowingly violated the patents, which are related to optical drives, clock frequency switching and power consumption. HP is seeking a jury trial and compensation for the use of its technology in Acer PC products, as well as treble damages for intentional violation of the patents and the payment of all its legal fees.

"Acer's legal division is looking into this issue and we have no comment at this stage," said Henry Wang, senior public relations director for Acer, in Taipei.

The lawsuit may be an attempt to slow Acer's breakneck growth and its expansion in the US, according to Henry King, an analyst for Goldman Sachs (Asia) in Taipei.

HP became the world's largest PC vendor in the fourth quarter of last year, according to market research and analyst group IDC. Acer took fourth place, although it clocked the strongest growth of any company in the top ten ranking. Dell was second, and Lenovo took third in the sales league.

King said that Acer was probably protected in the patent dispute by cross-licenses held by the companies that contract manufacture PC products on its behalf. Most major PC companies, including HP, Acer and Dell, farm out production to the same contract manufacturers in Taiwan and China, and the contract manufacturers try to sort out patent issues through cross-licenses.

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