Seagate sues solid-state drive manufacturer for patent infringement
Just a few weeks after Seagate voiced its first public concerns about flash disk manufacturers, the hard disk manufacturer is getting serious. Its first strike is against STEC, which makes flash disks for a variety of OEM customers. In a complaint filed on Monday with the Federal District Court in San Francisco, Seagate has accused STEC of violating four Seagate/Maxtor patents.
The complaint appears to be about error correction technologies and how solid-state drives interact with computers. It is not yet known which patents the hard disk manufacturer claims have been violated. Seagate is seeking a temporary injunction against STEC to prevent the company from continuing to violate its patents and is also claiming damages for unpaid licensing fees. STEC has rejected the claims, insisting that they are completely unfounded.
The flash disk manufacturer, who previously traded under the name Simple Technology, supplies products such as Solid State Disks (SSD) to EMC, the American manufacturer of high end storage systems who has recently been equipping its Symmetrix DMX-4 storage arrays with a mixed configuration of hard disks and super fast solid-state disks.
The legal dispute, which may eventually involve other companies, takes place against the background of a flash storage market that is about to experience rapid growth. Solid-state drives, rather than mini hard disks, are the preferred storage in mobile devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players, and solid state disks are beginning to appear in low power PCs, laptops and even servers. Although SSD has a long way to go to compete on cost per GB, this emerging competition is just starting to threaten hard disk manufacturers. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Seagate has its own plans to move into solid-state disks and wishes to curtail the growth of its competition by extracting licence fees from them.