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Sat, Dec 14, 2002 - Page 12 News List

HP, STMicroelectronics sued over trade secrets


Hewlett-Packard Co and STMicro-electronics were sued by a technology-licensing firm that accuses the companies of misusing trade secrets for a method of speeding up computer data processing.

In a lawsuit made public Wednesday, VLIW Technology LLC is asking a judge to stop Hewlett-Packard and STMicroelectronics from sharing the "Very Long Instruction Word" programming concept with others and to award damages and legal fees.

The suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, says Hewlett-Packard licensed the invention from a VLIW predecessor in 1990, and gave it to STMicroelectronics without permission.

VLIW says Hewlett-Packard was only authorized to use the technology in its own computers, and that "HP and STM knew or reasonably should have known that HP had no right to share the trade secrets." VLIW says in the suit the technology can be used for video processing. Hewlett-Packard, the world's second-largest computer company behind International Business Machines Corp, said Thursday it signed a five-year agreement to provide computers and software for Hughes Electronics Corp's DirecTV satellite-based television services.

Calls for comment on the suits to Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard's public relations office weren't immediately returned.

In New York, Michael Markowitz, US spokesman for Geneva-based STMicroelectronics, said the company had just received the lawsuit, and "we're looking into it." Shares of Hewlett-Packard, which reported US$45.2 billion in fiscal 2001 sales, rose 53 cents to US$18.76 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

US shares of STMicroelectronics, Europe's largest semiconductor maker with US$6.3 billion in fiscal 2001 sales, fell 39 cents to US$22.

Lawyer Kevin M. McGovern, chief executive officer of McGovern Capital LLC, is a part-owner and patent-enforcement coordinator of VLIW Technologies, according to the McGovern Web site.

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