Intergraph Sues PC Makers

Former workstation maker sues Dell, Gateway and HP over alleged infringements of three patents involving memory management.

After spending five years battling Intel Corp. over patent infringement issues, Intergraph Corp. is taking aim at three PC makers.

Intergraph, a former workstation maker that now focuses on software and services, this week filed suit against Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. over alleged infringements of three patents involving memory management.

Intergraph in 1997 sued Intel for allegedly illegally obtaining technology Intergraph had created for its own C5 Clipper processor and putting it into Intels own Pentium architecture. In April, Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., agreed to pay Intergraph $300 million and to buy selected patents from Intergraph and license other technologies from the company.

However, the settlement did not cover the PC makers who used the Intel chips in their systems, according to Intergraph, of Huntsville, Ala.

The new suit, filed in Texas, alleges that the companies were warned in 1997 that their systems, by using the Intel technology, were infringing on Intergraph patents. In 2001, Intergraph renewed efforts to negotiate a license to the Clipper patents with the computer makers.

In a prepared statement, Intergraph CEO Jim Taylor said that, while being cognizant of the cost of litigation, the company will continue to fight to protect its patents. Earlier this year, Intergraph created its Intellectual Property division to do just that.

"These are valuable patents, and we have an obligation to protect our intellectual property and to seek fair value for its use," Taylor said.

Since the first case against Intel was filed, Intergraph has gotten out of the hardware business, selling its workstation business to SGI and its 3-D graphics to 3D Labs Inc. Ltd.