CPU Maker Seeks Injunction Against Acer

July 11, 2008 Technology Law360

Taiwanese thermal solutions provider CpuMate Inc. on Tuesday filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Acer America Corp., hoping to keep the computer manufacturer from selling desktop computers that CpuMate claims violate its patented cooling technology.

CpuMate filed the motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, seeking to stop the manufacturing, marketing and sale of three desktop computers: the Aspire L3600, Aspire L5100 and Veriton L460.

“Defendants have willfully and maliciously expropriated CpuMate's innovative patented technology for a multitude of products,” according to the motion for injunction.

“Defendants' new release and continued release of infringing products,” the motion continued, “will destroy any remaining opportunity for CpuMate to establish a market leadership position and substantially diminish CpuMate's market share.”

An Acer representative did not return a call for comment Tuesday. Gerard Norton, a lawyer for CpuMate, said Tuesday, “It's important to my client that the court hears this case now.”

CpuMate first filed the case on May 16, demanding a jury trial and seeking attorneys' fees, a permanent injunction and damages for the infringement of four patents. That complaint alleges that Acer knowingly violated these patents.

The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,779,595; 7,245,494; 7,021,368 and 7,093,648.

Each is related to technology devices used to dissipate the heat from the central processing unit, or CPU, often called the “brains” of the computer. “As computers got more powerful, the CPU heats up and can get destroyed,” explained Norton. “My client met that need a few years ago, and the whole mission of the company was to develop cooling units so the computer won't overheat.”

In March 2003, Acer met with CpuMate to discuss the use of CPU coolers for Acer computers, according to the complaint. Acer signed confidentiality agreements to protect the proprietary information, but the complaint alleges that the company violated these agreements.

The complaint also alleges that Acer provided a third party with proprietary CPU information, and that information was in turn used to manufacture Acer computers.

The cooling devices were so similar to CpuMate's, the company argues, that they could only have been manufactured after closely examining its patents.

“Defendants abused the parties' confidential relationship of trust by misappropriating CpuMate's trade secrets and breaching the confidentiality agreement,” the complaint read.

The complaint added, “Defendants' unauthorized use of the confidential information constituted unfair competition.”

CpuMate filed another patent infringement lawsuit in Texas earlier this year against IBM Corp., also seeking a permanent injunction and damages for the violation of a CPU patent.

That complaint described “exacting duplication” of CPU devices, which was only possible by closely examining CpuMate's patents or its products.

CpuMate is represented by Fox Rothschild LLP.

The case is CpuMate Inc. and Golden Sun News Techniques Co. Ltd. v. Acer America Corp., Acer Inc. and Wistron Corp., case number 3:08-cv01865-FLW-TJB, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

This is to advise that Fox Rothschild LLP and Portfolio Media, Inc. have an attorney-client relationship.