HPE sues China's Inspur Group over server patents

Middle Kingdom biz accused of IP theft and changing names to evade sanctions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has filed a lawsuit against Inspur Group, China's largest server maker, for allegedly violating five of its server technology patents.

The complaint [PDF], filed in the California Northern District court, claims that the Inspur Group has ignored repeated requests to discuss patent licensing over several years.

Inspire Group encompasses a set of subsidiaries operating under different names out of the US and Singapore. The defendant companies include: China-based Inspur Group; Inspur Electronic Information Industry (IEIT Systems); Aivres Systems, formerly known as Inspur Systems; Betapex, formerly known as Inspur Asset Holdings; Inspur USA, and KAYTUS Singapore Pte. Ltd.

One reason for the shifting names, the lawsuit suggests, is that in March, 2023 Inspur Group was placed on the US Department of Commerce's Entity List – a trade sanction that requires designated entities to obtain a license from the US government to do business in America.

Rather than do so, the complaint contends, Inspur Group simply shuffled subsidiary names to continue selling its IT gear in the US.

"On information and belief, Defendant Inspur Group changed the name of at least one entity that places Accused Products into the stream of commerce in the United States and in this judicial district shortly after being placed on the Entity List, renaming Defendant Aivres from Inspur Systems, Inc. to Aivres Systems, Inc. on May 1, 2023," the complaint alleges.

HPE claims that the Inspur Group's IR5280M6 server is essentially the same as Aivres's 5280M6 – "both of which have the same product designation except for the prefix 'IR' on the Inspur product" – and the same product photos and technical specifications.

The product URL cited in the complaint for the Aivres 5280M6 server, said to have been accessed on December 6, 2023, presently returns a 404 error. The Inspur USA website is not available.

HPE's suit also claims that Betapex, formerly known as Inspur Asset Holdings, changed its name in September 18, 2023 "due to the placement of Defendant Inspur Group on the entity list and the negative press coverage that followed thereafter."

Inspur makes kit that it sells under its own brand, or that third parties rebadge under their own brands. It also does contract manufacturing to make third-party designs and has worked with IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft, among others.

HPE believes Inspur and its affiliates have been trespassing on its intellectual property. The US biz claims that the China-based server maker has violated five technology patents (listed below) and has known about at least one of the patent claims since 2022:

"HPE is a strong believer in the value and importance of protecting its intellectual property," a spokesperson for HPE told The Register.

"Inspur has infringed numerous HPE patents and HPE has the obligation to file this lawsuit to defend HPE's leadership position resulting from its substantial R&D investments. This lawsuit is part of HPE's ongoing efforts to enforce its patent rights against anyone who may infringe on those rights."

US-based Aivres Systems did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ®

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