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Tuesday,  August 26 12:01 AM EDT

Dell Patents "Reboot and See If That
Fixes It" Technical Support Process

By Brian Briggs

Round Rock, TX - Dell announced that they had been granted a patent for the "reboot and see if that fixes it" technical support process, which they pioneered.

"We're really taking our cue from other industries," said CEO Michael Dell. "The American Medical Association patented the 'let's see if that hurts tomorrow' treatment plan and General Motors patented the 'turn it off and start it up again' fixing process for automobiles."

Dell explained that this patent gives them an edge over competitors who will have to find another way to help customers, or be forced to pay Dell royalties. "It really enhances our award-winning technical support. We will license the technology to others. It could be $1-$15 per reboot depending on volume," he disclosed.

Dell has quickly integrated this patent win into their advertisements for technical support. Their new slogan: "Dell: Where rebooting to fix the problem is our solution."

Competitors are scrambling for a solution. Representatives for HP said they would change their process to avoid violation of the patent. They will now tell customers "to reboot and call them back if that doesn't fix it," the call back being the crucial difference.

Manager for Customer Service at Sony, Tom Fujiyama was outraged by the Dell claim. "How do they expect companies to handle support now? We'll have to retrain our entire staff. For most of them 'reboot and see if that fixes it' is the only solution they know. I guess we'll have to instruct them to tell the customer to reboot then quickly hang up and just hope that it fixes the problem," said Fujiyama.

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Patent enforcement won't be limited to large corporations. Dell plans on charging royalties to individuals as well. "Margins are tight and sales are slumping. We need to find a way to boost profits, so we've also requested wire taps for anyone with a mother or father who owns a computer," explained Dell.

Dell said the patent applies to hardware issues and that Microsoft holds the patent for fixing software problems with a reboot.

Several other companies including Apple and IBM are challenging the patent, contending they developed this process before Dell.

Special thanks to Nikolaj Borg

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