January 21, 2002

University Sues HP for Patent Theft

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Cornell University and the Cornell Research Foundation filed suit against Hewlett-Packard Company on Dec. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York for patent infringement.

The suit asserts that beginning in 1995, Hewlett-Packard infringed on, and continues to infringe on, a patent issued in 1989 protecting a computer instruction processing technique created by Prof. Emeritus H.C. Torng, computer engineering.

Torng’s invention, protected by U.S. patent 4,807,115, substantially accelerates a computer’s processing speed.

“Professor Torng devoted much of his professional life to developing this highly innovative approach to high speed processing,” said Robert C. Richardson, vice provost for research. “We cannot stand by while Hewlett-Packard profits from Professor Torng’s contributions in this field in violation of Cornell’s patent.”

Based on information presently available to the University, the patent infringement could lead to a request for damages in excess of $100 million, according to James J. Mingle, University counsel and secretary of the Corporation.

Torng taught both introductory and advanced courses in computers and computer networks prior to his retirement from Cornell.

In 1997, Torng was cited by officials of Intel Corporation for “his contributions to the state-of-the-art high speed instruction decoding and execution,” Richardson said.

“The intellectual property of the University and of the members of its faculty are among our most important assets,” President Hunter Rawlings said in a press release. “They must be protected, and the University is firmly committed to pursuing all appropriate means to protect its patent in this case,” he added.

Archived article by Marc Zawel