Filed in San Diego, the lawsuit accuses Gateway of violating six patents. They involve desktop and laptop computers and an attached network storage, which is part of a back office computer server system.
The lawsuit also involves eMachines, which Gateway purchased this month in a stock and cash deal valued at $289.5 million.
Bob Sherbin, a Gateway spokesman, said the company is confident that it is not violating the patents and will defend itself “vigorously.”
“The fact is, both companies are in possession of significant patent rights in the area of computer technology,” Sherbin said. “It was premature for them not to take that into consideration before filing a lawsuit.”
HP, the world’s largest computer maker, fired the legal salvo as part of a strategy to enforce its nearly 21,000 patents, including 6,000 related to computer technology.
“At an analysts meeting last fall, HP made it clear they needed to get more value out of their patent portfolio,” said Roger Kay, an analyst with industry research firm IDC in Framington, Mass. “It was a high-level directive to look at the patent portfolio, see what they’re getting, what they’re not getting, and make it better.”
This is the first time the company has filed a lawsuit related to its beefed-up patent enforcement efforts, HP officials said.
Kay added that control of intellectual property in the cutthroat computer industry is a thorny issue, with many companies competing on some products, such as computers, but partnering on others. For example, Gateway sells HP printers.
That makes filing a lawsuit a gamble for HP, which not only could face retaliation by Gateway but also could be seen as trying to hamstring a smaller competitor through the court system.