Gateway-HP patent tussle continues

Patent dispute between PC makers enters another round, as Gateway files complaint with U.S. International Trade Commission.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Gateway and Hewlett-Packard continue to trade blows in a dispute over patents for intellectual property related to computers.

Gateway filed a complaint Tuesday with the United States International Trade Commission, in which it seeks to ban HP from importing certain computers, monitors and the components used to make them, because those products could allegedly infringe on three Gateway patents related to multimedia functions in computer keyboards and displays. Gateway also seeks damages in the complaint.

Gateway's complaint counters a similar U.S. International Trade Commission complaint filed by HP against Gateway in May. In that complaint, HP seeks to ban Gateway from importing computers and components that HP says infringe on seven of its patents.

The legal sparring between the two companies got its start last March when Hewlett-Packard Development Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP, filed a patent infringement suit against Gateway in a district court in Southern California. That suit alleged that Gateway had infringed on six HP patents related to PCs and refused to properly compensate HP for their use.

At that time, Gateway pledged to defend itself, and in May it countersued HP claiming HP violated five Gateway patents, unrelated to those named in the Tuesday complaint with the International Trade Commission. HP is aware of the Tuesday complaint, company representatives said.

Both sides say they are ready for a long fight, but at the same time, they also appear to be open to a compromise.

Gateway has pledged to defend itself but would "prefer to work it out through discussion," a company representative said. "At this point, we're not there."

Meanwhile, Joe Beyers, HP's vice president of intellectual property, has said he believes HP is solid in its case against Gateway--the California lawsuit could be expanded because HP has about 6,000 patents related to PCs. But he said HP will attempt to reach a settlement in negotiations ordered by a judge.

"We are in a very strong position. But at the same time, we want to reach a fair settlement in this if they chose to," Beyers said.

Hewlett-Packard Development Company was formed early last year in a move meant to increase licensing of HP's technology portfolio.

Assuming that no settlements are reached, it could take up to a year for the U.S. International Trade Commission to issue a ruling on the two complaints. It usually takes about 10 months to a year before the agency finishes investigating a compliant, holds a hearing and issues a ruling on it, the Gateway representative said.