IBM files patent complaint vs Taiwan's Asustek

NEW YORK Thu Dec 6, 2007 2:53pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) is asking the U.S. government to ban imports of some computers made by Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc (2357.TW), alleging that the products infringe three IBM patents.

IBM said on Thursday it filed a complaint against Asustek and its North American subsidiary, ASUS Computer International, with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

It said the patent infringement occurs in Asustek's own-brand computers as well as in products the Taiwan contract manufacturer makes for other brands. IBM did not name the other brands. Asustek's customers include large computer companies such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Dell Inc DELL.O.

"They use the patented technology for computers they make for others as well as their own brand computers," said IBM spokesman Ari Fishkind. He would not say if companies besides Asustek could be affected by the complaint.

"It's in the commission's hands. It's not for us to determine," he said. Asustek continued to sell computers using IBM technology after a licensing agreement between the companies expired on December 31, 2004, he said.

IBM said the infringing products include notebook computers, servers, routers and some components. The patents "cover important aspects of computer systems, including power supplies, computer cooling and computer clustering capabilities," it said.

Asustek has been trying to establish its own brand, following in the footsteps of Taiwanese rival Acer Inc (2353.TW). It has set a goal of becoming the world's fifth-largest notebook computer vendor by 2010.

It launched a cheaper line of laptops called the Eee PC earlier this year and has said it expects to sell 5 million units globally next year.

A representative for Asustek could not immediately be reached for comment.

IBM shares were up 84 cents or 0.8 percent to $109.00 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Asustek shares closed up 1.93 percent in Taiwan.

(Reporting by Tiffany Wu and Sinead Carew, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)

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