HP has filed a lawsuit against Gateway that accuses it of violating six technology patents relating to desktop, notebook and servers.

The suit was filed in federal district court in San Diego on Wednesday. It alleges that Gateway violated HP's patents covering areas including graphics, power management and notebook design, said Joe Beyers, vice president of intellectual property licensing at HP.

Gateway had previously licensed some of the patents in question, Beyers said: "Many of these were licensed to Gateway from 1994 to 1999," he said. "They then refused to renew that license going forward after 1999."

HP is seeking unspecified damages for past use of its patents as well as a injunction against their further use, should the two companies fail to come to terms on a licensing agreement for the technology.

However, obtaining a court verdict is not necessarily HP's main objective, Beyers said: "Our interest would be to settle this quickly and for Gateway to take an appropriate licence from HP, and to deal with the issue of the prior use and the future use of these patents."

Gateway will fight against the lawsuit. "The fact is, both companies are in possession of significant patent rights in the area of computer technology.

"It's premature for them not to take this into consideration before proceeding with a lawsuit. We are very confident of our position and will defend ourselves vigorously," Bob Sherbin, a Gateway spokesman said.

Last year, HP formed an intellectual property licensing division to expand and oversee licensing of the company's patent portfolio. Wednesday's lawsuit is the first to emerge from the division, which helped increase HP's revenues from royalties by 50 per cent in 2003, according to Beyers.