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Dell faces Dutch PC maker in court

Court proceedings started yesterday in which PC maker Dell is accused of selling PCs that infringe on technology patents owned by Dutch company Tulip Computers International.

Tulip filed suit against Dell in November 2000, accusing the  company of copying a patented motherboard design and using it in Optiplex desktop PCs sold after 1997.

The Dutch company said at the time that the infringement covered about $17bn of Dell's sales over a three-year period up to the time the lawsuit was filed. Tulip has not revealed how much it wants from Dell in royalties and damages, but has said that licence fees for the type of patent in question generally amount to between 1% and 5% of the revenue they generate.

Dell has denied any wrongdoing and has argued that the patent in question is invalid and unenforceable, although its efforts to prevent the case from going to trial have been unsuccessful.

Tulip's patent describes a PC motherboard that works with both 16-bit and 32-bit peripherals, making it useful at a time when the industry was shifting between the two standards. The expansion card slot on the motherboard was designed to improve cooling and to help PC makers build smaller desktop computers, court filings show.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service


 

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