A Server Technology vertical power distribution unit, featuring its signature digital current display. (Photo: Server Technology)

A Server Technology vertical power distribution unit, featuring its signature digital current display. (Photo: Server Technology)

Server Technology Wins PDU Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Schneider’s APC

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Updated on June 5, 2014 with comment from Schneider Electric.

Server Technology, a Reno, Nevada-based vendor of power distribution gear for data centers, has been granted a $10.8 million award in what has been a seven-and-a-half-year patent infringement lawsuit with American Power Conversion Corp., a subsidiary of the French industrial giant Schneider Electric.

The two patents in question cover innovations in products that are core to Server Technology’s business. Its CEO Brandon Ewing said the CWG series of plug strips was responsible for about 40 percent of the company’s revenue. The series consists of more than 60 products.

The technology covered by the patents is a combination of four things: a vertical one-piece power distribution plug strip, relays behind the receptacles for switching, remote current monitoring system and a digital numeric current display on the strip itself. “It’s the combo of those four elements that makes up the basis for the patent,” Ewing said.

Schneider refrained from comment. A company spokesperson sent us a statement saying, “It’s not company policy to comment on a jury verdict. APC is considering pursuing an appeal.”

The Rueil-Malmaison, France-based electricity distribution and automation management company announced plans to buy APC in October 2006 — about two months before Server Technology filed its complaint. APC products named in the lawsuit were its AP7900 series and AP8900 series vertical switched power distribution units.

The damages award for Server Technology was part of a jury verdict in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Nevada. Ewing said he did not know whether Schneider was planning to appeal the decision or whether the rival would discontinue the two product families.

“These are decisions that somebody from APC needs to make,” he said. “The verdict really represents what would be a reasonable royalty for the products that have been infringed.”

The inventor behind the patents was Ewing’s late father and Server Technology founder Carrel Ewing. Server Technology filed for one of the patents in 2001 and for the other in 2006.

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San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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