A row is set to break out in the European computing industry following graphics body VESA sending out a letter saying it was pulling low power mode (DPMS) parts of its monitor specification after it had failed to reach agreement with Siemens-Nixdorf.
Last year Siemens Nixdorf sent out letters to over 70 OEMs in Europe about its patent 0624272, asking them to enter negotiations over its use. It dates from 1995 and is valid in 10 European countries, a representative said at the time.
But now a source at an OEM, who did not wish to be named, said that VESA had decided to pull the plug on the part of the specification which covers power down modes for monitors. The VESA standard is part of the PC95 and PC98 specifications and so affects a large number of monitor, graphics card and PC manufacturers across Europe.
The MD of a large European monitor company confirmed that VESA had been in touch with his company. "There is an issue with this and I've seen the correspondence from VESA," he said.
The implications for the industry, he added, were immense. He said: "This issue was mooted in VESA towards the end of last year. Any VESA standard is supposed to be an open standard and no one, in theory, can hold a patent on it."
Bob Raikes, director of market research company Meko, which covers the European monitor business, said: "Siemens [Nixdorf] appears to have a valid patent and I know people who have paid. They have already won a case in a German court."
The issue has wide ramifications for the industry, said Michael Spiro, financial director of UK PC company Elonex. His company has its own patents for similar technologies and has licensed them to big players in the industry.
"HP licensed our technology in 1996 and Hitachi did the same earlier this year," said Spiro. "They have licensed all of our power management technologies." He said Elonex has an entire suite of power management patents in its portfolio.
No-one from Siemens Nixdorf nor VESA were available for comment at press time.
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