Acer Fires Back At HP Over Patent Dispute

With sales booming, especially in the US, Acer Inc. finds itself the target of a patent infringement lawsuit from rival Hewlett-Packard. It isn't backing down.
TAIPEI — Acer Inc is investing allegations of patent infringement by Hewlett-Packard, and is hinting that it may use its own patents to wage a counter claim.

"Acer has obtained substantial intellectual property and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect and enforce our patented technologies against unlicensed use," the company said in a statement.

Acer is not commenting on the HP lawsuit, which says Acer violated five patents related to techniques for DVD editing, data processing and power consumption.

Earlier this week, HP said it would try to block sales of some Acer products in the US and would seek damages. The move looks like the opening gambit of a strategy to slow Acer's momentum in the U.S. Last year, its U.S. revenues doubled to about $1.6 billion and the company has been aggressively courting retail players, such as Best Buy.

Among top PC firms, Acer's growth has been the best in recent years. It is one of Europe's top PC brands and has recently been targeting the U.S., which will account for 25 percent of its revenue this year, up from about 20 percent in 2006.

Acer has done particularly well in consumer notebook PCs, one of HPs best performing areas. In the fourth quarter, Acer was No. 3 in notebook PCs and racked up 29 percent growth quarter on quarter. That tied HP, still No.1 with 20 percent market share. Dell Inc. slipped slightly, but still maintained its No.2 position with 15 percent of the market. Acer has 13.3 percent of the market, according to DisplaySearch.

In both desktops and PCs, Acer is targeting the No.3 spot this year, currently held by Lenovo. Although Acer's growth remains on track, the company has indicated it may acquire a company to help it leapfrog its Chinese rival.

In the fourth quarter, Acer's global market share stood at 7.1 percent; Lenovo slipped to 7.3 percent from 7.8 percent, according to market watcher IDC.

The company said this week that profits rose in 2006 to about $309 million (NT$10.22bn), up from $256 million in 2005.

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