Cornell sues HP over patent infringement

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 Dec. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York but announced 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 said. The university estimated that its request for damages could exceed US$100 million.

The patent in question -- U.S. patent No. 4,807,115, "Instruction issuing mechanism for processors with multiple functional units" -- was granted in 1989 to Cornell Research Foundation Inc., covering a technique invented by H.C. 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, said 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 said. He wasn't sure how the alleged infringement came to light but said it was likely that Cornell's scientists recognized 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 said. She declined to comment further because of the pending litigation.

(Douglas F. Gray in San Francisco contributed to this story)

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