Dutch PC maker slaps Dell with US$17-billion patent lawsuit

Dutch PC maker Tulip Computer International BV is taking Dell Computer Corp. to court over infringement on one of Tulip’s patents.

The Dutch company, which is reorganizing and struggling to stay in business, filed suit last week against Dell in a U.S. District Court in Delaware.

“The infringement covers US$17 billion of Dell’s sales over the past three years,” said Jip van den Berg, chief executive officer (CEO) of Tulip in a telephone interview with IDG News Service. The amount represents more than twice the revenue Dell reported in its third quarter.

Tulip accuses Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, the world’s second largest PC maker, of having copied a patented motherboard design since 1997.

“Dell has been infringing on our patent since 1997 and still is,” said Van den Berg. “It is customary in the PC industry to pay royalties for the use of patents.”

Van den Berg said other companies do pay Tulip, but he declined to name them. The Tulip CEO also had no comment when asked if other PC-makers infringe on Tulip’s patent.

Tulip has attempted to settle with Dell in the past year, Van den Berg said. “Those talks obviously failed, as we are now going to court,” Van den Berg said. The company is seeking unspecified royalties and damages.

The patent is for a specific motherboard design, developed by Tulip in Rosmalen, the Netherlands. It is used in common desktop computers, Van den Berg said. He wouldn’t specify what product series Dell allegedly uses the patent for.

Dell did not return calls seeking comment.

Tulip in Rosmalen, the Netherlands can be reached at http://www.tulip.nl/. Dell can be reached at http://www.dell.com/.