Ultra Products claim rights to the modular PSU design
"Ultra Products are seeking damages from 22 manufacturers claiming they own the patent to modular PSU designs"
Ultra Products claim rights to modular PSU
According to Bit-Tech Ultra Products have filed suit in the US district of Florida against twenty two tech companies, claiming violation of a 2006 patent on modular power supply units for PCs.
The company are claiming that in September 2004 they filed a patent (number 7,133,293)
that covers a "personal computer power supply installed within a case of a personal computer" where the rear has a DC output socket "disposed inside of the computer case for mating with removable cables". Now its pretty clear that the patent describes a modular power supply and the images look like a modular power supply but there is also a question as to whether they were indeed the first to patent it.
Ultra Products are seeking triple damages from twenty two companies including very well known manufacturers such as Antec, Sea Sonic, Zalman, Tagan, OCZ, Thermaltake and Corsair (full list below). The reason they are looking for triple damages, which is the maximum under US patent law, is that they say the listed organisations have known about their infringements since 2006 which they claim makes it wilful.
However, to make things a little more interesting, there is evidence of another very similar patent from all the way back in April 2000 filed by Hewlett-Packard Company and Tatung Company (number 6,466,433)
. While not identical, it does detail a "computer with modular power supply assembly in separate bay" and "an electrical coupling that electrically connects with a coupling mounted inside the computer housing automatically upon insertion".
While it isn't Hewlett-Packard and Tatung making the claim, if the Ultra Products patent proves valid, then maybe they would have an argument of their own for prior art? Ultra claim that they spent over $250,000 on searching for prior art but turned up nothing. The fact is that if any suit is proved in favour of the above patents then it looks like it would cover pretty much every modular PSU on the market.
An employee of one of the defending companies who chose to remain anonymous has said that an overturning of the original patent can't come soon enough as the lawsuit represents “a case of Ultra versus end-users (because by) putting a modular power supply inside a computer, the end-users violated Ultra's patent.”
While it isn't likely that Ultra Products are going to succeed in their cash hunt mainly due to the older patent filed by HP & Tatung we all know funnier things have happened. It'll be interesting to see where this heads next.
Do you think Ultra Products are being greedy or do they have every right to take them all to court? Only problem I see is that even if they win then HP & Tatung could just file a suit against them too.
What do you think about it all? Let us know in our forum.
The complete list of defendants is as follows:
Antec, Inc., Channel Well Technology Co. Ltd., Channel Well Technology Co. U.S.A., Inc., Corsair Memory, Inc., Enhance Electronics Co. Ltd., E-Power Technology/PCMCIS, SPI Electronic Co. Ltd., FSP Group USA Corp., Koolance USA, Mushkin, Inc., OCZ Technology, Sea Sonic Electronics Co. Ltd., Silverstone Technology, Inc., Spire-Bytecom Fanner Corporation, Tagan Technology Co. Ltd., Tagan Technology Co., Thermaltake Technology Co. Ltd., Thermaltake, Inc., Topower Computer Industrial Co. Ltd., Topower Computer U.S.A., Inc., Zalman Technology Company Ltd. and Zalman USA, Inc.
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