Seagate Begins First SSD Legal Battle

Goes after a small one first in what is likely to set an industry precedent.

Controversial Seagate CEO Bill Watkins (below) said the company would sue SSD makers and now it has.

Testing the water by kicking small fry ‘STEC’, Seagate alleges infringement of its US Patent Numbers 6,404,647 and 6,336,174 (issued in 2002), 6,849,480 (2005) and 7,042,664 (2006) and says while the lawsuit isn’t yet seeking financial compensation it is looking to set a precedent for recognition of its intellectual property and the establishment of rules other SSD manufacturers must follow.

Looking closer however choosing STEC is an odd move. STEC is one of the very earliest SSD makers having shipped drives since 1994 and it claims these products pre-date Seagate’s patents by more than a decade. Indeed the company has come out swinging with the following statement:

“Throughout our 18 year history, STEC has been diligent in its pursuit of industry-changing technology while entirely respectful of the intellectual property that has been developed by others. The allegation put forth by Seagate in recently published articles that STEC… has stolen patents is simply not accurate nor in line with STEC’s long history of success and fair play in these markets,” said Manouch Moshayedi, chairman and CEO of STEC.

“In fact, STEC believes these allegations are in response to the competitive threat that we as a leading developer of innovative SSD technologies pose to the HDD industry,” he continued. “We view this action as Seagate’s attempt to slow down the growth that STEC’s SSD business is experiencing, particularly in the enterprise segment. We have a high degree of confidence in STEC’s intellectual property portfolio.”

Looks like Seagate may be in for more of a fight than it expected and, in all honesty, with users keen to see SSD technology proliferate the consumer space at affordable prices as soon as possible we have to hope manufacturers get to continue their work unrestricted.

Now Seagate, we all know your Barracuda drives are excellent but how about you drop all this nonsense, start playing nice and concentrate on building your own SSDs?


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