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Western Digital and Seagate Hit with Patent Lawsuits

Category: General News
Posted: 04:46PM

Western Digital and Seagate are perhaps two of the larger hard drive manufacturers in the world. Today, each one has been hit with a patent lawsuit claiming both companies are infringing on patents held by a California inventor. The inventor, Uri Cohen, sold his patents to Rembrandt IP Management a few years ago when he realized he could not afford an expensive legal battle. So now, Rembrandt is suing on his behalf. The patent infringement affects Seagate's Free Agent, Replica, Black Armor, Expansion, Barracuda, Momentus, Savvio, Cheetah, Constellation, Pipeline, DB35, and SV35 hard drives. For Western Digital, its My Book line, Elements, ShareSpace, My Passport, RE3, Caviar, and Scorpio hard drives are affected. So virtually every hard drive made by these two companies is affected by the patent infringement case.

What patents are being infringed exactly? The ones concerning low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads that minimize magnetic interference. These heads are quite crucial for high-capacity drives since as the storage density increases, the noise and interference become more important. Both patents were filed back in 1997 by Cohen who did launch his own investigations into Seagate and Western Digital. When he could not continue the legal battle, he sold the patents to Rembrandt which is now suing both companies. Rembrandt wants a "reasonable royalty" from the two companies since each one has a good portion of the $12 billion a year hard drive business in the US.

The patent infringement case was filed in Wisconsin's Western District which is where Seagate has a facility. Depending on how the battle fares, other hard drive manufacturers may get pulled into it.

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Guest comment
staff on November 11, 2010 03:30PM
I understand that it can be tough sledding for inventors, but I wish he had been able to stick it out or use a contingency litigator rather than sell to Rembrandt. Typically, those outfits pay only peanuts and garner the lions share of the invention's value. What a shame.

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