Acer in the Hole

This was inevitable.

Acer is in trouble for allegedly violating certain Hewlett-Packard patents. And in turn, Acer is blaming – who else? – its contract assemblers.

Never mind that Acer, too, made its name supplying components and building PCs before deciding it could do as well by branding its own line of computers. More irony: One of the three companies Acer is suing – Wistron Corp. – was once Acer’s contract assembly division.

This well may be gamesmanship on HP’s part. Acer has hit No. 3 on the PC leaderboard, just behind Dell. The leader? HP.

But what’s instructive here is what opponents of outsourcing have long argued: that EMS firms simply could not guarantee the security of their customers’ IP. For its part, Acer seems to be affirming that. And the computer maker seems intent on bringing down its suppliers with it. It’s unfortunate, but it was also utterly predictable.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow