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November 9, 1994

DATA GENERAL SUES IBM OVER SEVEN PATENTS “USED IN AS/400, ES/9000”

By CBR Staff Writer

Since the sum IBM Corp spends every year on lawyers about matches the annual turnover of most of its competitors, a company has to be on very strong ground indeed before it considers filing a major patent infringement lawsuit against IBM, but that is what Data General Corp has done, and it sounds almost desperate in its announcement of the petition. The company claims that in the AS/400 and the System/390 mainframes IBM is infringing seven of the 50 patents it was issued on work done in its Fountainhead project in the 1970s: the patents cover central processor and memory technology, and while it is difficult to assess exactly what the patents might cover, the timescale of IBM’s alleged infringement implies that they may include system-managed storage. It says that IBM has known about the patents since the late 1980s, but went ahead and infringed them anyway. Data General says it had invested $25m in developing the technology and assigned more than 100 of its most innovative research staff to the project, with the charge to design and develop the most advanced computer system of its time… In 1988, IBM introduced its AS/400, drawing on the technology and with an awareness of Data General’s project, the lawsuit says. The firm is seeking a court injunction to bar IBM from further infringement of the patents as well as damages adequate to compensate it for IBM’s infringement of the patents. IBM said it that couldn’t comment because it had not yet seen the suit.

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