HP moves to bolster IP enforcement

HP plans to increase enforcement of its intellectual property, a move aimed at vendors selling products based on HP technology - not at the users of those products.

HP's announcement of the formation of a centralised IP licensing organisation was designed to coincide with the release by the USPatent and Trademark Office of a list of top companies receiving patents.

HP moved from ninth place on that list to #5, receiving 1759 patents while maintaining a relatively flat annual research and development budget of about $US4 billion over the past few years, company officials said.

The top spot on the patent list was again held by IBM, which received 3415 patents last year, up slightly from 3288 in 2002. It was IBM's 11th consecutive year as No. 1.

"There is no intention at all to go after end-users," said Joe Beyers, who as vice-president of IP licensing at HP will head the newly created unit. Beyers said his unit would focus on firms that shipped products using HP's technology and would work to do more to make companies better aware of IP licensing opportunities, he said.

In addition to IBM and HP, two other US-based companies were in the top 10, Micron Technology which was No. 6 (#3 in 2002), and Intel at #7 (#15 in 2002).

After IBM, the list is: #2 - Canon Kabushiki (1992 patents), #3 - Hitachi (1893), 4 - Matsushita Electric Industrial (1786), #5 - Hp, #6 - Micron, #7 - Intel (1592), #8 - Philips (1353), #9 - Samsung Electronics (1313), and #10 - Sony (1311).

HP officials said the company had been managing its IP on an "ad hoc" basis by business units and had missed out on opportunities to "gain additional value" from its portfolio.

The company has started several licensing programs, including technology involving DVD+RW, a format for rewritable DVDs; HP Auto-MIDX Networking, a technology for automatically configuring local area networks; and Ultrium, a format for next-generation linear data storage.