Saturday, July 20th 2013

Swiftech Withdraws H220 CPU Liquid Cooling Kit from US Market

Rouchon Industries Inc., d/b/a/ Swiftech today announced the withdrawal from US sales of the H220 CPU cooling kit. On June 7 2013, Rouchon Industries Inc., d/b/a/ Swiftech received a letter from Asetek' s lawyers claiming that the H220 CPU cooler infringes on their US patents 8,240,362 (the '362 patent) and 8,245,764 (the '764 patent) and to cease selling, offering for sale and importing the H220 CPU cooler in the United States. Pending final disposition of this matter, Swiftech immediately placed a hold on shipments of the H220 CPU cooling kits into the USA.

On June 27, 2013 Swiftech's counsel responded to Asetek' s attorney by a letter stating that preliminarily, Swiftech does not believe that the H220 product infringes any valid claim of the '362 and '764 patents. Nonetheless, in an effort to avoid any unnecessary litigation Swiftech also asked whether Asetek would be willing to offer a nonexclusive license for the asserted patents. On July 12, 2013 Swiftech received a response from Asetek' s law firm stating that the company does not offer licenses.

Swiftech continues to firmly assert its position with regards to the alleged infringement as stated in its letter dated June 27, 2013. Nevertheless, in order to avoid litigation the company's management has now made the business decision to withdraw the H220 CPU cooler from the US market. Given these circumstances, Swiftech wants to hereby reassure its US customers that: 1/ it will continue to provide full technical and warranty support for the H220 CPU cooling kits that have been sold in the US, and 2/ the product will continue to be sold in other countries.

Swiftech sincerely apologizes to its US customers for this extraordinary situation, the very first in its long history. For the past 15 years, Swiftech has been at the forefront of technological innovation in this industry, and it will continue to do so. In the words of Gabriel Rouchon, the company's Chairman and CTA: "I want our customers to know and expect with absolute confidence that Swiftech's resourcefulness will once again be brilliantly demonstrated in the immediate future."
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95 Comments on Swiftech Withdraws H220 CPU Liquid Cooling Kit from US Market

#1
silkstone
by: newtekie1
The claim Asetek is making has nothing to do with the idea of AIO liquid cooling, their claims are based on the idea of combining the pump and waterblock into one unit. As far as I've seen they were the first to demonstrate and begin the process to patent this idea way back in 2003.

And Asetek has been producing AIO liquid coolers for OEMs since at least 2005. The HP Blackbird was the first real consumer level product to see an AIO unit from Asetek, and it came out in 2007, but they had been doing AOI units for workstation and server class computers for a least 2 years before that.
Ahh, I apologize then. I didn't know Astek had done it first.
however, the patents are for the AIO system. Including radiator, pump and waterblock.

The 2 patents they are using (in one of the lawsuits) are these:

The two patents are intrinsically related: the latter was filed back in 2010, while the former revised the design of the system to better reflect the state of the art when it was filed in 2011. Both include reference to the use of a liquid-cooling system connected to a pump and radiator, designed to be fully integrated into a single maintenance-free design - and if you think that sounds a little broad, you might be right given that the patents encompass 'different embodiments of the heat exchanging system as well as means for establishing and controlling a flow of cooling liquid.'

- from the link you provided. It seems like they give out patents for anything nowadays. People have been combining pumps, waterblocks and radiators for years. I remember when I was 16 or so and people were pulling radiators from mini's (the car) to use in their computers.
Posted on Reply
#2
Steven B
this ladies and gentlemen is how sad/small the US DIY market is, that is a company is even threatened with patent infringement, they would rather save the litigation money and pull the product lol.
Posted on Reply
#3
tigger
I'm the only one
by: newtekie1
The claim Asetek is making has nothing to do with the idea of AIO liquid cooling, their claims are based on the idea of combining the pump and waterblock into one unit. As far as I've seen they were the first to demonstrate and begin the process to patent this idea way back in 2003.

And Asetek has been producing AIO liquid coolers for OEMs since at least 2005. The HP Blackbird was the first real consumer level product to see an AIO unit from Asetek, and it came out in 2007, but they had been doing AOI units for workstation and server class computers for a least 2 years before that.
My CM aquagate R80 is from 2005.
Posted on Reply
#4
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: james888
Asetek may be completely in the right under current law, but one could question if the laws might need revision. I don't know enough to say if Asetek is abusing the patent laws but other companies have. It could be even that the real patent trolls are so prevalent that any company using the patent laws seems like a patent troll whether or not they are.
I agree, companies like Rambus abuse the shit out of the law. In this case Asetek is in the right. They aren't trying to use some vague patent that doesn't really apply to the actual product to sue companies for money. They also aren't suing over products that they never intend to product.

by: ypsylon
Patent Trolls, Patent Trolls, we are Patent Trolls... Negotiation is irrelevant, you will be Trolled. Resistance is futile. :D

In truth Swiftech kit is quite OK, but CM Eisberg Prestige trounces everything from Asetek. Asetek are simply pissed off at the competition. Euphemism "patent infringement" is just smoke screen.

Thinking at the Asetek HQ is: sales dropping we should troll somebody for lost 'profits'.
Actually, up until this point Asetek really couldn't sue anyone. Because the patents took so long to be approved they had no real way to enforce them, they had to wait for the patent to be approved.

Now that the patents are approved they can start going after the people infringing on them.

Generally a patent troll pulls up some old patent that doesn't apply to anything they currently produce. Asetek isn't being a patent troll here, not everyone that sues for patent infringement is being a patent troll. Asetek is genuinely protecting its ideas and products, and they aren't suing for money like a patent troll does.

by: silkstone
Ahh, I apologize then. I didn't know Astek had done it first.
however, the patents are for the AIO system. Including radiator, pump and waterblock.

The 2 patents they are using (in one of the lawsuits) are these:

The two patents are intrinsically related: the latter was filed back in 2010, while the former revised the design of the system to better reflect the state of the art when it was filed in 2011. Both include reference to the use of a liquid-cooling system connected to a pump and radiator, designed to be fully integrated into a single maintenance-free design - and if you think that sounds a little broad, you might be right given that the patents encompass 'different embodiments of the heat exchanging system as well as means for establishing and controlling a flow of cooling liquid.'

- from the link you provided. It seems like they give out patents for anything nowadays. People have been combining pumps, waterblocks and radiators for years. I remember when I was 16 or so and people were pulling radiators from mini's (the car) to use in their computers.
Yes, but the part they are contesting is the pump/block combo. This isn't an argument over AIO coolers, it is entirely based on the idea of combining the pump/block into one unit, which Asetek patented back 2003. Patents cover all the new ideas presented in them, and as far as I can tell no one was even thinking about combining the pump and block before 2003/4 when Asetek filed these patents.

by: tigger
My CM aquagate R80 is from 2005.
Your point?
Posted on Reply
#5
JDG1980
These days, patents mostly seem to be used to obstruct innovation. We'd probably be better off getting rid of them entirely. There is no reason to think that the lack of a 2-decade monopoly will stop individuals or companies from innovating new designs.
Posted on Reply
#6
Hayder_Master
nice, i seek too many times about h220 in god price, always $150 and above with low availability
Posted on Reply
#7
silkstone
by: newtekie1


Your point?
Their original patent was filed May 6th 2005. The patent in question is an continuation on the patent filed Jan 1st 2009. I see nothing about 2003. If CM released a product in 2005, you can bet your ass it was in development since at least 2004.

I can't find the original patent. But, I'd be very interested to see it.

Source: http://www.google.com/patents/US20120061058.pdf (pdf)

Edit - Found it

https://www.google.com/patents/WO2006119761A1?cl=en

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week34/OG/html/1381-3/US08245764-20120821.html

It's quite a lot of reading and I'm going to bed, so i'll take a look later. However, it seems they patented every possible type of heatsink. I'm not sure if it mentions a pump + waterblock in a single unit until the latest patent.

From a very quick read through. I think you are wrong. The pump + waterblock component of the patent only seems to have been added this past year (2012). I need to read it in full to check nothing is mentioned in the earlier patent though, but logic is; if it is mentioned in a prior patent, why would they request a continuation?

I can;t believe that it is in their 2005 filing.
Posted on Reply
#8
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: silkstone
Their original patent was filed May 6th 2005. The patent in question is an continuation on the patent filed Jan 1st 2009. I see nothing about 2003. If CM released a product in 2005, you can bet your ass it was in development since at least 2004.

I can't find the original patent. But, I'd be very interested to see it.

Source: http://www.google.com/patents/US20120061058.pdf (pdf)

Edit - Found it

https://www.google.com/patents/WO2006119761A1?cl=en

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week34/OG/html/1381-3/US08245764-20120821.html

It's quite a lot of reading and I'm going to bed, so i'll take a look later. However, it seems they patented every possible type of heatsink. I'm not sure if it mentions a pump + waterblock in a single unit until the latest patent.

From a very quick read through. I think you are wrong. The pump + waterblock component of the patent only seems to have been added this past year (2012). I need to read it in full to check nothing is mentioned in the earlier patent though, but logic is; if it is mentioned in a prior patent, why would they request a continuation?

I can;t believe that it is in their 2005 filing.
The pump block combo's original drawing uses Socket 478 mounting, its been in there for a while...

Edit: This is the original patent filed in 2004. It clearly has the pump/block combo in it.

http://www.google.com/patents/EP1923771A1
Posted on Reply
#9
badtaylorx
by: newtekie1
The pump block combo's original drawing uses Socket 478 mounting, its been in there for a while...

Edit: This is the original patent filed in 2004. It clearly has the pump/block combo in it.

http://www.google.com/patents/EP1923771A1
i take it this does not involve the apogee II???
Posted on Reply
#10
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: badtaylorx
i take it this does not involve the apogee II???
That's what I was trying to figure out in the previous thread. The apogee drive and apogee drive II both appear to violate the patents...
Posted on Reply
#11
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: badtaylorx
i take it this does not involve the apogee II???
by: cdawall
That's what I was trying to figure out in the previous thread. The apogee drive and apogee drive II both appear to violate the patents...
See that is what differentiates a patent troll from a company legitimately defending its patents. The Apogee Drive doesn't compete with any Asetek products. It is really in a different market segment from Asetek products. Asetek products are for people that don't want a custom water loop, that just want a sealed no hassle AIO liquid cooler. The Apogee Drive II is for people that do want custom liquid cooling, they are different market segments. The courts have demonstrated that they will not allow a company that has no products, and no plans to release products in a market segment, to enforce patents in that market segment. If Asetek was really a patent troll they could go after the Apogee Drive, but they obviously aren't. They are only going after products that infringe on their patents in market segments they are actually in.
Posted on Reply
#12
sneekypeet
Unpaid Babysitter
by: newtekie1
See that is what differentiates a patent troll from a company legitimately defending its patents. The Apogee Drive doesn't compete with any Asetek products. It is really in a different market segment from Asetek products. Asetek products are for people that don't want a custom water loop, that just want a sealed no hassle AIO liquid cooler. The Apogee Drive II is for people that do want custom liquid cooling, they are different market segments. The courts have demonstrated that they will not allow a company that has no products, and no plans to release products in a market segment, to enforce patents in that market segment. If Asetek was really a patent troll they could go after the Apogee Drive, but they obviously aren't. They are only going after products that infringe on their patents in market segments they are actually in.
well said!:rockout:
Posted on Reply
#13
erocker
So... Couldn't they just sell the drive, rad and tubes, with a little bottle of coolant in one nice little package... just not put together?
Posted on Reply
#14
james888
by: erocker
So... Couldn't they just sell the drive, rad and tubes, with a little bottle of coolant in one nice little package... just not put together?
They could. But that leaves what is most scary about watercooling left for someone who hasn't done it before.
Posted on Reply
#15
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: erocker
So... Couldn't they just sell the drive, rad and tubes, with a little bottle of coolant in one nice little package... just not put together?
Sure, but at that point why would anyone buy it? If they are going to do that, you might as well buy one of their other kits.

Edit: It seems they already do that anyway. You just have to provide you own tubing. http://www.swiftech.com/h2o-x20-elite.aspx
Posted on Reply
#16
silkstone
by: newtekie1
The pump block combo's original drawing uses Socket 478 mounting, its been in there for a while...

Edit: This is the original patent filed in 2004. It clearly has the pump/block combo in it.

http://www.google.com/patents/EP1923771A1
Fair enough. I couldn't find that patent before. It'd be interesting to see if Coolermaster had anything in development before that patent was filed. Apparently, neither parties are commenting on the case.

They should at least be required to license the patent out, I personally do not like the Antek units very much and think it would be a shame to see those as the only option.
Posted on Reply
#17
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: silkstone
Fair enough. I couldn't find that patent before. It'd be interesting to see if Coolermaster had anything in development before that patent was filed. Apparently, neither parties are commenting on the case.

They should at least be required to license the patent out, I personally do not like the Antek units very much and think it would be a shame to see those as the only option.
Yeah, right now it seems Asetek is taking the stance that they don't licence their technology. However, if it went to court, the past precedent is that the court will force them to license the technology at a reasonable price.
Posted on Reply
#18
lilhasselhoffer
by: Hood
Merely combining elements of prior engineering art should not constitute a patent; it's just an idea that anyone can describe. I could patent 100 ideas a day by simply describing them in writing, any damn fool thing I could dream up, and just wait for some sucker to make something that I could claim infringes on my patent. Oh wait, that would make me a patent troll. The problem is in the Patent Office. I'm not saying they're corrupt, but if not, they are unique among all the government agencies. Patents should only be issued for specific designs that improve on prior art in tangible ways. Instead we have thousands of patents for "improved turbo design" after some brainiac added a few fins or just swirled a port with a die grinder. Or someone screwed a pump to a water block and thought they invented something, and the idiots in the Patent Office agreed to grant them a patent worded so vaguely that nobody else can screw a pump to a water block without paying them, even when it's a vastly improved design that makes the original look crude in comparison.
Here's the fun of the US patent system, a patent isn't really worth squat until it enters court.

Let's say I patent a bicycle with a laser cannon mounted on the front. Some levity is needed, so just hang with me. Both the bicycle and the laser cannon might be patentable works, but my patent is the combination. Company X decides to take their own laser and bicycle combination to the market. I automatically win the patent suit, right?

-WRONG-

Company X and I go to court. A judge looks at the patent, and needs to determine two things. One, is the patent actually valid for the situation. As this is a clear case of similar products, we're still in business there. Two, does the patent actually describe a new or non-trivially derived use of material to complete its stated objective.

Point two is sketchy. The patent office has approved the patent, but a judge can basically invalidate it. The patent failing to pass the judge's scrutiny means that it is not a valid and defensible patent, and you've got a worthless patent.

With the flood of patents hitting the US patent office, more and more of these patents are being invalidated, despite approval. It's severely screwed up, but nobody's trying to fix it because it would take patent lawyers. Patent lawyers make huge amounts of money in patent litigation, so they aren't chomping at the bit to change things.


So, best case Swiftech goes to court, spends huge amounts of money, and gets the patent overturned. The problem is the legal fees in this sort of transaction can never be recouped. Cooler Master might be able to afford this, but Swiftech might be too small. Worst case, litigation leads to the patent being upheld. This sort of patent will kill pretty much everyone not buying from Asetek. Goodbye market diversity, and reasonable pricing.

I think Swiftech is just conceding the fight, because the legal fees are too large. It's shameful that this is where we are, and even more shameful that this sort of patent was approved in the US.
Posted on Reply
#19
drdeathx
by: cdawall
If I could patent a square with rounded corners and a button I would.
Apple would steal that Idea CD and you would be in litigation for years.:toast:
Posted on Reply
#20
drdeathx
by: lilhasselhoffer
Here's the fun of the US patent system, a patent isn't really worth squat until it enters court.

Let's say I patent a bicycle with a laser cannon mounted on the front. Some levity is needed, so just hang with me. Both the bicycle and the laser cannon might be patentable works, but my patent is the combination. Company X decides to take their own laser and bicycle combination to the market. I automatically win the patent suit, right?

-WRONG-

Company X and I go to court. A judge looks at the patent, and needs to determine two things. One, is the patent actually valid for the situation. As this is a clear case of similar products, we're still in business there. Two, does the patent actually describe a new or non-trivially derived use of material to complete its stated objective.

Point two is sketchy. The patent office has approved the patent, but a judge can basically invalidate it. The patent failing to pass the judge's scrutiny means that it is not a valid and defensible patent, and you've got a worthless patent.

With the flood of patents hitting the US patent office, more and more of these patents are being invalidated, despite approval. It's severely screwed up, but nobody's trying to fix it because it would take patent lawyers. Patent lawyers make huge amounts of money in patent litigation, so they aren't chomping at the bit to change things.


So, best case Swiftech goes to court, spends huge amounts of money, and gets the patent overturned. The problem is the legal fees in this sort of transaction can never be recouped. Cooler Master might be able to afford this, but Swiftech might be too small. Worst case, litigation leads to the patent being upheld. This sort of patent will kill pretty much everyone not buying from Asetek. Goodbye market diversity, and reasonable pricing.

I think Swiftech is just conceding the fight, because the legal fees are too large. It's shameful that this is where we are, and even more shameful that this sort of patent was approved in the US.
We sure appreciate the education. Being computer nerds, I think we know what a patent is and what happens when companies steal the idea or design...

Swiftech is bending cause their lawyers told them too.
Posted on Reply
#21
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
The patent in question covers that L-shaped fitting on the block/pump, which can turn around 180° while remaining watertight.
Posted on Reply
#22
lilhasselhoffer
by: newtekie1
See that is what differentiates a patent troll from a company legitimately defending its patents. The Apogee Drive doesn't compete with any Asetek products. It is really in a different market segment from Asetek products. Asetek products are for people that don't want a custom water loop, that just want a sealed no hassle AIO liquid cooler. The Apogee Drive II is for people that do want custom liquid cooling, they are different market segments. The courts have demonstrated that they will not allow a company that has no products, and no plans to release products in a market segment, to enforce patents in that market segment. If Asetek was really a patent troll they could go after the Apogee Drive, but they obviously aren't. They are only going after products that infringe on their patents in market segments they are actually in.
Here's where we're going to have to differentiate opinions on the matter.

Asetek has filed a patent that is basically applicable to any closed loop heat transfer system. You're looking at a patent from a computer hardware focused company, and only seeing that one application.

In reality, houses can use a system of tubes beneath the flooring for heating and cooling. A heat transfer segment, with an integrated pump, can push the heated or cooled liquid out and into the tubes. The tubes then transfer a portion of their heat into the surroundings. These systems have been around in high-end houses and building for decades.

Now, tell me that Asetek has a case. A patentable system must demonstrate that it is a unique solution, and not a trivial combination of existing components.

So, Swiftech is doing the only sensible thing. They are forgoing the huge money pit that this litigation will cost. They are pulling the product that they think might be the source of this litigation, and they are changing their aims.


I cannot call this trolling, because it isn't. I'm calling this a crappy patent, that should never have been approved by the US patent system. Because it would take a law suit to challenge this, Swiftech is backing down. They cannot afford the litigation, but hopefully someone else will.

As far as not suing for other products, just wait. Rarely do companies stop when something is proven viable. If one lawsuit threat stops the AIO competitors, another could well kill the custom loop makers. Who's to say that Asetek won't be designing these systems in the near future? I prefer to allow action to speak, and Asetek's licensing refusal speaks volumes about their intents.



Edit:
Let's clarify one more thing. If you were to spend 20 minutes, and remove all references to CPU and computer what do you have? A patent for a generic closed loop heat transfer system, where the pump happens to be integrated with one of the heat transfer surfaces. I could make the same claims about any car radiator, home heating/cooling system, and the environmental water heating systems used in houses (black sacks on the roof absorb solar energy, heat water, then the heated water is used in the house).

This indicates that the patent was improperly awarded, and any judge presented with it should invalidate it for not meeting basic requirements. If the US patent office was competent and well staffed this crap never would have been given out in the first place.
Posted on Reply
#23
Hood
by: btarunr
The patent in question covers that L-shaped fitting on the block/pump, which can turn around 180° while remaining watertight.
Are the Cool IT-made products next on the list, since they also employ the rotating fittings? If so, Corsair has problems...
Posted on Reply
#24
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Hood
Are the Cool IT-made products next on the list, since they also employ the rotating fittings? If so, Corsair has problems...
Yes, Asetek does have an ongoing litigation with CoolIT.
Posted on Reply
#25
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: lilhasselhoffer
Here's where we're going to have to differentiate opinions on the matter.

Asetek has filed a patent that is basically applicable to any closed loop heat transfer system. You're looking at a patent from a computer hardware focused company, and only seeing that one application.

In reality, houses can use a system of tubes beneath the flooring for heating and cooling. A heat transfer segment, with an integrated pump, can push the heated or cooled liquid out and into the tubes. The tubes then transfer a portion of their heat into the surroundings. These systems have been around in high-end houses and building for decades.

Now, tell me that Asetek has a case. A patentable system must demonstrate that it is a unique solution, and not a trivial combination of existing components.

So, Swiftech is doing the only sensible thing. They are forgoing the huge money pit that this litigation will cost. They are pulling the product that they think might be the source of this litigation, and they are changing their aims.


I cannot call this trolling, because it isn't. I'm calling this a crappy patent, that should never have been approved by the US patent system. Because it would take a law suit to challenge this, Swiftech is backing down. They cannot afford the litigation, but hopefully someone else will.

As far as not suing for other products, just wait. Rarely do companies stop when something is proven viable. If one lawsuit threat stops the AIO competitors, another could well kill the custom loop makers. Who's to say that Asetek won't be designing these systems in the near future? I prefer to allow action to speak, and Asetek's licensing refusal speaks volumes about their intents.



Edit:
Let's clarify one more thing. If you were to spend 20 minutes, and remove all references to CPU and computer what do you have? A patent for a generic closed loop heat transfer system, where the pump happens to be integrated with one of the heat transfer surfaces. I could make the same claims about any car radiator, home heating/cooling system, and the environmental water heating systems used in houses (black sacks on the roof absorb solar energy, heat water, then the heated water is used in the house).

This indicates that the patent was improperly awarded, and any judge presented with it should invalidate it for not meeting basic requirements. If the US patent office was competent and well staffed this crap never would have been given out in the first place.
You went and typed all that out and it was a complete waste. You're still trying to argue based on the assumption they are suing over AOI cooling systems, they aren't. They are suing about the individual, unigue, parts that they developed and patented. I swear I read somewhere that it was the pump/block combo, but BTA said it was the rotating fitting. Either way, they aren't suing simply because they threw a bunch of pre-existing parts together into a system and patented the system. Parts of the system didn't exist before they developed them, that is why they have a valid claim, and these unique parts in the patent are what they are trying to prevent other companies from using.

And if you spend 20 minutes removing CPU and computer, you still have a patent on the pump/block combo and 180° rotating fittings, both of which as far as anyone can tell didn't exists before Asetek developed them. Both of these things are innovative ideas that seem to be unique, no patent judge would invalidate the patent on these.
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