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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Revives HP Patent Case Over ‘Blade Servers’

(CN) - Hewlett-Packard won a second shot at arguing that its self-contained servers, called "blade servers," don't infringe on a patent held by licensing company Acceleron.

HP sought a judgment of non-infringement in federal court, but the judge dismissed its lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction. U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware said litigation was "too speculative a prospect to support declaratory judgment jurisdiction."

HP argued it had grounds to sue for declaratory judgment after Acceleron president Thomas Ramey III sent a letter to Michael Holston, HP's executive vice president and general counsel, identifying the patent and HP's blade servers.

Acceleron countered that no such jurisdiction exists, because Ramey's letter didn't include threats to sue or a demand for a license.

The Federal Circuit reversed, saying Acceleron had implicitly asserted its rights under the patent.

"The purpose of a declaratory judgment action cannot be defeated simply by the stratagem of a correspondence that avoids the magic words such as 'litigation' or 'infringement,'" Chief Judge Paul Michel wrote.

"[I]t is implausible ... to expect that a competent lawyer drafting such correspondence for a patent owner would identify specific claims, present claim charts, and explicitly allege infringement."

The three-judge panel rejected Acceleron's claim that patent holders regularly contact other companies in order to sell their patents or incorporate them into another company's technology.

"Given the circumstances of this case, such an assertion appears disingenuous," Michel wrote.

Acceleron's direct contact with HP over the blade servers created a "definite and concrete dispute" that qualified for declaratory judgment jurisdiction, the court concluded.

It reversed dismissal of HP's bid for declaratory judgment.

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