An upstart PC manufacturer says it will fight a patent infringement lawsuit brought against it by Compaq, claiming that the world's largest PC maker is simply trying to block its fast growth in the US market.
Trigem Computer’s eMachines subsidiary, which has rocketed up the list of PC sellers in the US this year with its sub $1000 machines, said it was hit by the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Compaq's home city of Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.
The company attests that it has the rights to 13 patents that Compaq alleges it has infringed because they were bestowed on it by other PC vendors. The patents include technology for improving system processing speed, enhanced video graphics, peripheral compatibility, improved mechanical design features and overall system architecture.
The complaint also contends that eMachines sold products under the trade names, Etower 333cs, Etower 333id and Etower 366I, to which Compaq owns rights, without permission.
Compaq is suing eMachines, its South Korean parent and other affiliated companies, Trigem and Korea Data Systems and Trigem America.
Trigem executives said in a written statement from Korea: "Compaq's lawsuit seems to be aimed at stopping eMachines, which has been growing rapidly in the US." An eMachines spokeswoman in the US, added: "We don't have any comment at this time."
But eMachines are currently hot consumer products because they deliver enough power and memory to surf the Web, while costing as little as $500.
Thomas Seikman, Compaq’s general counsel, said: "Competition in the marketplace is good for consumers and the industry, but it is extremely important that companies compete fairly and not through unauthorized use of another company's technology."
He added: "Compaq invests a great deal in research and development to advance the state of technology and improve the computing experience for the end user. We cannot allow our investments in research and development to be misappropriated by eMachines or anyone else."
The suit resembles one that Compaq filed against Packard Bell in 1994. That suit, which lasted almost two years, was settled when Packard Bell agreed to pay five years worth of license fees for using Compaq's patents.
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