Seagate, Dept. of Hard-Drive Health Services, Announce SSD Awareness Program
Hard-drive maker Seagate Technology has finally settled on a strategy for competing with its solid-state drive rivals. It will enter the SSD market this year. And to prepare the market for its arrival, it’s suing an SSD pioneer for patent infringement.
Yesterday, Seagate (STX) filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing STEC Inc. (STEC), an early SSD maker, of patent infringement. In the suit, Seagate argues that STEC’s solid-state drive products violate four Seagate patents covering the ways those products communicate with a computer. The company requested an injunction and unspecified damages, which it asks be tripled if STEC is found guilty of willful infringement.
“The public perception has been that solid-state will take over the world and run disk makers out of business, but you can’t bring that product to market without licensing disk-drive technology,” said Seagate CEO Bill Watkins. “STEC infringes on a number of Seagate’s patents which are important to the entire industry. We thought they would have to learn how to do storage differently to avoid our patents, but they decided to go ahead and violate them. … We have spent $7 billion over the last 10 years to optimize how our disks work. This is the first lawsuit brought by a hard-disk company against a solid-state company. We are protecting the entire industry.”
That’s an altruistic way of looking at litigation that Watkins suggested in an interview in March was designed to protect Seagate’s own turf. After all, a Seagate victory in the suit could pave the way for cross-licensing agreements, not just with STEC, but with other SSD makers as well.