Ah, the legal system…how I loath it…and the patent system too I guess.  Apparently Ultra has a patent on using modular cables in a consumer computer – not on modular cables, though, just on USING them in this application.  Sigh.  And so, the lawyers come out flying suing:

Antec, Inc., Channel Well Technology Co. Ltd., Channel Well Technology Co. U.S.A., Inc., Corsair Memory, Inc., Enhance Electronics Co. Ltd., E-Power Technology/PCMCIS, SPI Electronic Co. Ltd., FSP Group USA Corp., Koolance USA, Mushkin, Inc., OCZ Technology, Sea Sonic Electronics Co. Ltd., Silverstone Technology, Inc., Spire-Bytecom Fanner Corporation, Tagan Technology Co. Ltd., Tagan Technology Co., Thermaltake Technology Co. Ltd., Thermaltake, Inc., Topower Computer Industrial Co. Ltd., Topower Computer U.S.A., Inc., Zalman Technology Company Ltd. and Zalman USA, Inc.

Yeah, I’m serious.  Hurrah for innovation…

Several of the other companies named in the lawsuit agreed to speak off the record.  One manufacturer claims that the patent granted to Ultra will likely not hold up in court. He says, “The U.S. courts do not have the manpower to examine cases to an extensive degree anymore.  The examiners rubber stamp everything that isn’t easy to contest and let the courts figure it out afterward.”

This may have some truth to it, as another patent describes a “Computer with modular power supply assembly in separate bay” issued to Hewlett-Packard in April 2000.  Several episodes of the now defunct TV show The Screen Savers discussed the merits of modular power supplies as early as 1999.

Three of the largest manufacturers named in the suit banded together in early 2007 after receiving the original notifications from Ultra in early 2007.  This coalition claims it spent more than $250,000 in a prior art search, but would not disclose the results of that search to DailyTech.