IBM on Thursday said it had filed a complaint against Asustek Computer and its subsidiary in North America with the United States International Trade Commission. The inventor of the personal computer (PC) claims that certain products and components which Asus makes and sells infringe its patents. IBM demands ban for those products from import into the U.S.
In particular, IBM alleges that certain products by Asustek infringe its patents that cover PC power supply (U.S. Patent No. 5,008,829), automatic fan speed control (5,249,741) as well as a method and hardware that make a cluster of computers appear as a single host on network (5,371,852). If the first two patents may be infringed by Asustek’s notebook computers, barebone systems, servers as well as system components, then the third one is may be infringed by Asus network equipment and servers.
IBM indicated it had made repeated attempts to reach a licensing agreement between the companies. IBM’s position has been – and remains – that Asustek either must license or stop using IBM’s patented technology. In the complaint IBM requests an exclusion order against the importation of infringing Asustek computer products and components into the United States.
While Asus is a well-known brand for computer components, notebooks and some other products, the company also makes systems for other computer vendors, such as Dell or Sony, using its manufacturing capacities in China. It is unclear whether those products also infringe IBM’s patents and should be banned from selling in the U.S., or Dell, Sony and other clients of Asustek Computer have licensed the aforementioned patents of IBM.
IBM annually invests billions of dollars in research and development and has extensive patents and other intellectual property in areas including personal computing, servers, networking, semiconductors and other computer components. In fact, IBM has been the top beneficiary of patents for many years.