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Asetek sues CoolIT over alleged patent infringement

Asetek sues CoolIT over alleged patent infringement

Asetek's freshly-granted patent is broad enough to cover a wide variety of water-cooling systems, including CoolIT's range.

Liquid cooling specialist Asetek has been granted three patents on its integrated sealed-loop technology by the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) - and has immediately turned around and sued rival CoolIT for alleged infringement.

'Asetek is an innovation company by DNA,' claimed André Sloth Eriksen, founder and chief executive of Asetek, in a statement to press regarding the newly-granted patents. 'These patents, some of which have priority back to 2003, spring out of our rich PC enthusiast heritage and our dedication to solving painful problems for our customers.

'Our successful innovations have attracted several imitators,' Eriksen added in his statement, without naming names. 'Although competition is a keen motivator for continuous innovation and operational excellence, innovation is expensive and as such we take out patents to protect our investments.'

The target of Eriksen's barbs appears to be rival sealed-unit cooling company CoolIT, now the recipient of a lawsuit alleging infringement of one of Asetek's freshly-granted patents.

The patent in question, publication number US 2012/0061058 (PDF warning), describes 'a cooling system for a computer system [...] comprising a reservoir having an amount of cooling liquid, said cooling liquid intended for accumulating and transferring the thermal energy dissipated from the processing unit to the cooling liquid. The cooling system has a heat exchange interface for providing thermal contact between the processing unit and the cooling liquid for dissipating heat from the processing unit to the cooling liquid.'

If that sounds a little general, that's because it is: as granted, Asetek's patent, which is held in Eriksen's name rather than the company name, basically covers any liquid cooling system including sealed-unit all-in-one systems and those with separate pumps and reservoirs. Although selected areas of the patent application attempt to limit its scope - there's specific mention of the design being for 'a small and compact liquid-cooling solution which is more efficient than existing air-cooling arrangements and which can be produced at a low cost enabling high production volumes' - these are still general enough to cover a large swathe of the market.

CoolIT, for its part, has been producing watercooling systems for quite some time - witness our review of the Domino ALC from 2009 - but despite the latest patent being filed in 2011 Asetek could still have prior claim thanks to the latest patent being a continuation of a filing made way back in 2005. As a result, Asetek is claiming that CoolIT's integrated watercooling systems fall foul of the patent, and that the Canadian company owes some serious cash.

CoolIT isn't the only company in Asetek's sights, with a licensing agreement giving an unnamed third-party seller of sealed-loop watercooling systems - most likely Antec, which sells rebadged Asetek units under its own name - immunity from a similar lawsuit.

Thus far, CoolIT has not commented on the suit, or whether it plans to capitulate and licence Asetek's patent or fight to have the patent withdrawn on the basis of prior art.

29 Comments

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Bloody_Pete 31st August 2012, 11:41 Quote
This is actually a good thing, as Asetek have always make better products than CoolIT...
Phil Rhodes 31st August 2012, 11:48 Quote
Given the preposterous generality of the patent, seems like a straightforward patent troll situation.

Although, to be honest, you don't need to read the legalese to understand that bovine ordure like "Asetek is an innovation company by DNA" is code for "we want to be able to have some free money without bothering to do any work."
Blarte 31st August 2012, 11:55 Quote
best I return my pc to air cooled ...I don't want to be sued..
Cerberus90 31st August 2012, 12:12 Quote
Why the hell haven't the people who work in the patent office been shot yet? Who the hell would approve a patent like that.

And surely if you can sue someone for infringing on your patent, that you've only just got, that means that they already had their product out before your patent, so how can you patent it!

I can't imagine why Asetek would feel at all threatened by CoolIT anyway, from what I can remember from numerous CPC tests is that anything made by CoolIT is usually worse than the standard cooler.
themassau 31st August 2012, 12:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloody_Pete
This is actually a good thing, as Asetek have always make better products than CoolIT...

a law suit is never a good thing if coolIT loosIes then trhe consumer needs to pay more to bouth products because asetek has less concurrency and coolit needs to pay a lawsuit. in the other way around the patent would be invalit and you hava to pay more for asetek because they have to pay the lawsuit.

the biggest problem is that there are more companies that make all in one cooling (corsair). so if asetek wins then the whole market will become expensive again and then we are 5years back in pricing. so lets hope for prior art or a more strict patent.

maybe they can even sew car companies because they use all in one loop water cooling systems. then we have no car (allmost every car is liquid cooled) no high performance electronics etc.
Harlequin 31st August 2012, 12:25 Quote
the problem is how generic this patent is - this technically voers home built water cooling as well.
KidMod-Southpaw 31st August 2012, 12:25 Quote
Yeah, and I sued my sister because we came from the same mother...
liratheal 31st August 2012, 13:14 Quote
Eugh.

I hope all the lawyers on the planet explode in unison, taking with them anyone who has this "patent, sue everybody" mentality.

Sick to death of not a week going by without some corporation suing another corporation for a slight infraction on a general as patent.
ChaosDefinesOrder 31st August 2012, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus90
And surely if you can sue someone for infringing on your patent, that you've only just got, that means that they already had their product out before your patent, so how can you patent it!.

Because the patent approval process takes a bloody long time! I have seen and heard it mentioned that the average time between submission and granting is 3 years.

If the patent referred to in the article (filed only 1 year ago) is "infringed" by a CoolIT product released more than 1 year ago then that's one thing (and the patent may get invalidated as such) that doesn't mean that the CoolIT product doesn't infringe on one of the other patents held by Astek filed before CoolIT came in to being. As mentioned in the article, some were filed in 2003 and 2005.

In spirit I agree with you, though. The patent system is a bit ridiculous and the fact that some patent filings are kept sealed for a could of years means that some "innovators" can develop and release something with a simultaneous independent discovery with no knowledge that a competitor has filed a patent even when searching for it until there are "infringing" products well in the market by the time the patent is granted and enforceable!
jrs77 31st August 2012, 13:38 Quote
This again shows in what a bad shape the current patent-system is. A patent as general as this one should've never been approved.

Sad days we're living in.
SiR 31st August 2012, 14:12 Quote
I think I will apply for a patent for erm... a piece of equipment that uses a heat source to cook food... it would be just as rediculous lol
IvanIvanovich 31st August 2012, 14:24 Quote
I wish patents would go back to covering only NEW inventions. Not minor twists on existing products and processes. Adding a spoke to a wheel, does not mean you own the rights to the wheel as a concept. You did not invent water cooling asetek, I do not care if you have made any improvement, it does not entitle you to anything but a competitive edge.
S1W1 31st August 2012, 14:31 Quote
That patent is far too general- it defies belief that it got approved.
mayhem 31st August 2012, 14:31 Quote
Is the patent just for the USA then Coolit can only be done for sales in the USA not world wide.
Madness_3d 31st August 2012, 15:39 Quote
I Take issue with this patent, As has been said it's too general and it's not like Asetek invented compact watercooling units, they've been done before but just not well, while I'm fine with them patenting the solutions *they* invent for making watercooling units better, such a general patent being used in this way limits innovation which is never good for the consumer...
xxxsonic1971 31st August 2012, 15:43 Quote
Its general practice to sue your rivals.
Griffter 31st August 2012, 15:48 Quote
wont be surprised they broke open coolit's stuff, check if there was a patent on it. then applied for that patent, and sued. haha. business' are in the same league as politicians.
fdbh96 31st August 2012, 16:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Given the preposterous generality of the patent, seems like a straightforward patent troll situation.

Although, to be honest, you don't need to read the legalese to understand that bovine ordure like "Asetek is an innovation company by DNA" is code for "we want to be able to have some free money without bothering to do any work."

They still had to do the R & D in the first place. It actually costs money to make these products so they are hardly getting it for free.
samkiller42 31st August 2012, 19:14 Quote
Someone saw what happened between Apple and Samsung, and thought "We can do that!!"

Sam
BlackMage23 31st August 2012, 20:04 Quote
[QUOTE=themassau]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloody_Pete
the biggest problem is that there are more companies that make all in one cooling (corsair). so if asetek wins then the whole market will become expensive again and then we are 5years back in pricing. so lets hope for prior art or a more strict patent.

Lets not forget that Asetek make the Corsair water coolers as well as the Antec Kühler, Think they also make the Intel one.

Also they have been in the watercooling business for a long time now - Who remembers the old Vapochill systems? yep that was them. They were also one of the first to market a complete watercooling kit; the Waterchill kits. So I don't think it is very nice to call them patent trolls when they have been producing great stuff for a long time.
Paradigm Shifter 31st August 2012, 20:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackMage23
Lets not forget that Asetek make the Corsair water coolers as well as the Antec Kühler, Think they also make the Intel one.

Also they have been in the watercooling business for a long time now - Who remembers the old Vapochill systems? yep that was them. They were also one of the first to market a complete watercooling kit; the Waterchill kits. So I don't think it is very nice to call them patent trolls when they have been producing great stuff for a long time.
Asetek make/made the H50 and H70. CoolIT make the H80 and H100, AFAIK. Not sure about the H60...

The patent system really needs an overhaul; recently patents are far broader than they should be. And proof of prior art seems to do nothing to stop a broad patent being approved. :(
SchizoFrog 1st September 2012, 06:20 Quote
I am bored of these articles, but I do enjoy how so many people discuss and give their opinions on legal matters when they can't spell or construct a sensible sentence themselves.

Can we not just leave these lawsuit cases to the respective companies and their lawyers to deal with? If a company is going to fold or be taken over due to a legal case then fair enough but this general reporting of every single lawsuit is just over the top. Do you not have more interesting articles to write?
fluxtatic 1st September 2012, 06:36 Quote
Screw Asetek, then - that patent mentioned is so generic it would likely cover the entire market. Wait until they start suing companies that sell kits - rad, pump, block(s) and hosing intended to keep it a little easier on people new to watercooling.

If they want to take the Apple route of "competition", I'll take my money elsewhere.

Bloody_Pete - this is potentially bad for anyone that uses watercooling. At best, their retarded patent will get bounced on the 10 years' worth of prior art (durr, USPTO). At worst, they drive their largest competitor out of the market. Prices go up and Asetek gets lazy. After all, they've got the market to themselves, so they won't have to try that hard. At that point, somebody would have to cave and get a license, and that sure as hell won't bring prices down or necessarily drive competition.

Horrible as some people think Windows is, do you honestly think Apple and various Linux distro creators/publishers/forkers/whatever would be where they are without that 800lb gorilla? (I'm not talking Arch or Slackware, I mean the Mints and Ubuntus.) If nothing else, it gives them something to point at and say "see how stupid MS was with that? See how much better we did it?" Without MS first doing it wrong, they would have had a harder time seeing how to do it better (mostly as regards the UI. I'm well aware of the actual Unix/BSD underpinnings of OS X [also well aware that wasn't Apple's doing, but NeXT] and the inspiration or however you want to term it with Linux.)
damien c 1st September 2012, 06:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by KidMod-Southpaw
Yeah, and I sued my sister because we came from the same mother...

Don't let Apple see this sentence, as they will try to patent the fact that we are all born via a man and women having fun and they will try to claim they invented it to sue the whole population of the planet.

With this patent that has been granted, they could basically sue any company who uses a radiator for removing heat from a processing unit, car engine, fridge, freezer etc etc as it is far to open and wide ranging.

Oh well we should all jump on the Apple band wagon and start suing everyone for stupid things.
brave758 1st September 2012, 07:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I am bored of these articles, but I do enjoy how so many people discuss and give their opinions on legal matters when they can't spell or construct a sensible sentence themselves.

Can we not just leave these lawsuit cases to the respective companies and their lawyers to deal with? If a company is going to fold or be taken over due to a legal case then fair enough but this general reporting of every single lawsuit is just over the top. Do you not have more interesting articles to write?

yawn
Lazarus Dark 2nd September 2012, 06:11 Quote
Wouldn't diy watercooling constitute prior art? Asetek didn't invent any of that, they just took the diy community's work and then packaged it together in one patent.
Lockinvar 3rd September 2012, 04:52 Quote
Stupid patent is stupid. I have hated apple's practices for years, the latest farce being icing on the cake [of hate]. Looks like Asetek is in the same category.
Mcbeer 3rd September 2012, 07:57 Quote
Apple really kick started the lawsuit war huh?
mnpctech 4th November 2012, 15:18 Quote
I'm sure Asetek is watching CoolIT thrive with Corsair. I can't do a case review without people asking "Will the H100 fit?" ....BIG revenue in enclosed loop sales today.... every manufacturer is pushing their branded version now.....

I predict out of court settlement with Licensing agreement between Asetek and CoolIT.
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