Back when I moved to Silicon Valley, Silicon Graphics Inc., (SGI) was still a hot place to work. They were still pumping out cool machines and had a reputation for a fun corporate culture. Of course, that collapsed pretty quickly over the next few years, as SGI totally misjudged the market trends and fell victim to the innovator's dilemma. Basically, SGI never could come to terms with the fact that its premium products were going to be increasingly undercut as cheaper commodity technology improved. Back in 2006, we noted that what remained of SGI had indicated that it planned to resurrect the company by going patent troll
. However, we thought
we'd avoided that ignoble result when SGI sold most of its assets
to Rackable for a mere $25 million three years ago. Silly us for assuming those patents would just go away.
While Rackable changed its name to Silicon Graphics International... the original company actually retained
the patents, and renamed itself Graphics Properties Holdings... and over the last few years has been suing lots of companies for patent infringement
. In the last year alone it has sued Apple, HTC, LG, RIM, Samsung, Sony, Acer, ASUS, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio and Motorola Mobility.
As the link above notes, while some of GPH's patents are relatively early, it appears that lots of similar inventions predated key patents. However, the early date may make those patents look stronger, and give GPH much more leverage in getting companies to pay up -- or risk losing the ability to produce devices with nice graphics capabilities.