*Updated Aug. 16, 2017 with comments by Schneider
Switch, the Las Vegas-based data center provider that has for years touted a long list of its founder and CEO Rob Roy’s pending and issued data center design patents, is beefing up its legal team to go after companies it says have infringed on its intellectual property.
Roy has “more than 350 issued and pending patent claims,” the company says, crediting the CEO with designing everything from power and cooling systems to the meeting-room interiors in its data centers. Switch is now signaling that it’s prepared to pursue legal action against companies it alleges have copied some of his inventions.
“Today many companies copy these designs in their data centers, and while Switch is flattered, we are also ramping up our IP legal team to address those that are infringing on our patents,” Sam Castor, the company’s executive VP of policy and deputy general counsel, said in a statement last month.
The announcement came several weeks before Switch announced a licensing deal with Schneider Electric. The French energy management and automation giant, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of data center infrastructure equipment, agreed to license the design of Switch’s hot-aisle containment and cooling system, which prevents hot air that comes out of servers from mixing with cold air produced by the facility’s cooling system, making the system more efficient.
Switch may have developed a unique way to implement hot-aisle containment, but the overall concept has been in widespread use by the data center industry for years. Keeping hot and cold air from mixing is a generally accepted best practice in designing energy efficient data centers.
Switch did not say why Schneider licensed the intellectual property in its announcement of the deal. In a phone interview with Data Center Knowledge Adam Kramer, executive VP of strategy at Switch, only said, “They want to use this IP.”
Schneider is a €25 billion corporation with vast engineering resources it could tap to develop its own implementation of the hot-aisle-containment concept.
In a statement emailed to Data Center Knowledge, Christopher Hanley, Schneider’s senior VP for Data Center Systems, said this would be the first time Schneider would be using Switch’s intellectual property in its products:
“For over a decade, Schneider Electric has been a supplier for Switch’s data centers. Together, we have a strong, long-term relationship where Schneider’s data center products are incorporated into Switch data center facilities. As a global manufacturer, Schneider Electric sees Switch’s data center configurations as a complement to our own data center air containment and HVAC offerings Schneider has developed and sold since 2004. Schneider Electric does not use Switch intellectual property in past or current offerings.
With an opportunity to license nine US granted patents through Switch’s program, this partnership provides clients cutting-edge data center technology which brings together the respective innovative hot-aisle containment and cooling technologies utilizing architectures of both Switch and Schneider.”
The hot-aisle containment and cooling system it licensed is called Switch T-SCIF (Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility). According to Kramer, key among the patents licensed are:
- Integrated Wiring System and Thermal Shield Support Apparatus for a Data Center: U.S. Patent Number: 8,072,780
- Air Handling Control System for a Data Center: U.S. Patent Number: 8,180,495
- Data Center Air Handling Unit: U.S. Patent Number: 8,469,782
- Electronic Equipment Data Center of Co-Location Facility Designs and Method of Making and Using the Same: U.S. Patent Number: 8,523,643
- Data Center Facility Design Configuration: U.S. Patent Number: 9,198,331
- Electronic Equipment Data Center and Server Co-Location Facility Configurations and Method of Using the Same: U.S. Patent Number: 9,622,389
- Air Handling Unit With A Canopy Thereover For Use with a Data Center and Method of Using the Same: U.S. Patent Number 9,693,486
Switch said it has had a licensing program since 2016. Its first licensee was NV Energy, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned Nevada utility.