US university sues HP over patent infringement

Cornell University is suing Hewlett-Packard for patent infringement, charging HP with longtime violations of a patented technique for increasing a computer's processing speed.

          Cornell University is suing Hewlett-Packard (HP) for patent infringement, charging HP with longtime violations of a patented technique for increasing a computer's processing speed.

          Cornell's suit, filed last month in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, but announced last Friday, alleges that HP has been infringing on a Cornell patent since 1995. Repeated efforts to address the infringement have been rebuffed by HP, Cornell says. The university estimated that its request for damages could exceed $US100 million.

          The patent in question -- US patent No. 4,807,115, "Instruction issuing mechanism for processors with multiple functional units" -- was granted in 1989 to Cornell Research Foundation, covering a technique invented by HC Torng, a professor emeritus with Cornell's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

          Specifically, the technology allows simultaneous and out-of-order calculations to be done in a series, says Henrik Dullea, a spokesman for the university.

          HP has been infringing on the patent since 1995, Cornell said in a statement. The university has been in discussions over it with HP "for the last couple of years," Dullea says. He wasn't sure how the alleged infringement came to light but says it was likely that Cornell's scientists recognided their technique being used in HP products.

          HP maintained that its microprocessors do not infringe on any patents.

          "We believe the lawsuit from Cornell is without merit and we intend to contest it vigorously," spokeswoman Jean Shimoguchi says. She declined to comment further because of the pending litigation.

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