Dell Sued For Patent Infringement For Power And Software Update Functionality

On Monday in the Western District of Texas, plaintiff Liberty Patents, LLC filed a complaint against defendants Dell Technologies, Inc. and Dell Inc. (collectively Dell) for patent infringement for power distribution and management and automatic software updates for computers.

The patents-in-suit are United States Patent No. 6,920,573 (the ’573 Patent), which “relates to a system for conserving energy in electronic systems”; and 7,493,612 (the ’612 Patent), which “discloses systems and methods for automatically updating the system software of an embedded system.” The patents “cover technology used in computer systems,” they “describe key improvements to electronic devices in the areas of better power distribution and power management, and a better process of retrieving automatic software updates.”

For example, Dell allegedly infringed the ’573 patent, entitled “Energy-Conserving Apparatus and Operating System Having Multiple Functions Stored in Keep-Alive Memory,” through its products, such as the Dell G5 15 Laptop and other products with the “PowerShare” feature. “In particular, the ’573 Patent describes three operating modes. The first mode is a regular operating mode where the electronic device is fully powered on and where the main microprocessor is running. The second mode is a power-saving mode where the main microprocessor is not running, yet the system is still activated. The third mode is also a power-saving mode, and more specifically, a standby mode from which the first mode can be activated. The ’573 Patent also discloses components to power the system, such as a rechargeable battery, and components to control the system, such as a power button.”  

Specifically, Dell purportedly infringed at least Claim 13 of the ’573 patent. Accordingly, the accused product “includes a first group of circuitry that is actuatable to provide a first operating function.” The plaintiff claimed that Dell’s accused product has a processor for different functions and different states, such as a “working state, sleeping states, and off state etc., which correspond to the laptop’s Power On mode, Sleep mode and Shut Down mode, respectively.” For example, during the Power On mode, “the processor provides processing functions, including application processing, graphics processing.” The first circuitry group “consume[s] power and implement these required functions.” The accused products operate differently depending on the operating mode. Moreover, the second circuitry group performs a second operating function. For instance, the accused product has “PowerShare” feature, whereby a user can charge a “USB connected device (such as a mobile device)… even when the laptop is in the Shut Down or Off mode”; the second circuitry group “can be actuated to provide the charging function during Shut Down mode.” Additionally, the accused products’ third circuitry is Standby or Sleep mode, which “allows the first group of circuitry (when deactivated) to be reactuatable so that it can provide the first operating function. The third group also comprises keep-alive memory circuitry for storing information needed for resuming the first operating function or the second operating function. For example, the” Sleep mode can be activated or deactivated by pressing the Power button.” Therefore, different levels of power are provided in the different operating modes. Consequently, Liberty Patents asserted that Dell infringed this patent through its different operating modes and functionality and it had knowledge of the’ 573 patent.

Additionally, Dell also purportedly infringed the ’612 patent through its products running on Chrome OS, “which can automatically update the device’s firmware over the internet” through an Embedded Controller as described in the patent.

Dell is accused of direct, indirect, induced, and contributory infringement. Liberty Patents has sought declaratory judgment in its favor, a permanent injunction, an award for damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, an award for costs and fees, and other relief. Liberty Patents is represented by Antonelli, Harrington & Thompson LLP and The Stafford Davis Firm.