BY LISA COLEMAN
Storage Computer is taking legal action against Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Seagate Technology, and Xiotech Corp.-a wholly owned subsidiary of Seagate-for patent infringement. Claiming that patents issued in the U.S. and the U.K. have been infringed, Storage Computer is seeking injunctive relief, damages, and legal fee reimbursement.
"We don't want to sue anyone," says Edward Gardner, president of Storage Computer. "We want to show potential infringers that they should license the technology." Gardner added that lawsuits were "a last resort and not the preferable one."
Nashua, NH-based Storage Computer is claiming that HDS allegedly infringed two European patents for storage systems. The company has taken legal proceedings against HDS in the U.K.
Specifically, Storage Computer says certain HDS storage products infringe upon two of its patents: "Fault-tolerant, Error-correcting Storage System and Method for Storing Digital Information in Such a Storage System" and "High-Speed, High-Capacity, Error-Correcting Storage System for Binary Computers." Both patents were issued in the U.K.
One of the patents was awarded in the U.K. in 1999, although it was filed in 1991 and had met with opposition from "interested parties," cites a press release issued by Storage Computer in 1999.
According to a spokesman from HDS: "We are investigating the claims and expect to aggressively defend ourselves if necessary."
Storage Computer's Gardner says, "The commencement of these proceedings is the first action against a manufacturer whose products we believe infringe upon our patents and is consistent with our program to vigorously enforce the company's comprehensive patents and intellectual property rights."
The company also alleges that certain Seagate/Xiotech storage products infringe its U.S. patent entitled "Apparatus and Method for Storing Data and Selectable Data Protection Using Mirroring and Selectable Parity Inhibition."
Storage Computer holds patents for "SCSI disk arrays, parity-protected disk arrays and unique asynchronous storage architecture marketed as 'RAID 7,' " ac-cording to a company press release. Other patents protect the software implementation of virtual storage devices "with allowed claims covering magnetic disk, optical disk, and magnetic tape and tape libraries running as 'virtual devices' under software control."
In March, the company was granted a patent for its "Fault-Tolerant Error-Correcting Storage System" in Japan. This patent application was originally filed on May 31, 1988 and claimed a date of June 22, 1987-several months before the first publication of the Berkeley RAID paper: "A case for redundant arrays of inexpensive disks," which coined the term "RAID" in December 1987.
Gardner believes his company holds all the patents in RAID technology.
In February 2000, Storage Computer retained the law firm of Sidley & Austin to represent the company for its patents and intellectual property. "We have invested substantial professional time ...investigating, researching, and assessing the validity of the claims in the [Storage Computer] patents," says Brian Medlock, head of Sidley & Austin's Intellectual Property Practice, in a press release. "Our conclusion that the intellectual property in the patents is solid led us to undertake this engagement on a contingency basis."
In late 1984, Cab-Tek began development of RAID technology. From 1984 to 1990, products for RAID levels 3, 4, 5, and 6 were developed. RAID-7 virtual storage architecture was then developed for overcoming performance bottlenecks in previous RAID implementations and to achieve fault-tolerant storage without impeding performance. The resulting patented technology was transferred to Storage Computer in 1991. In 1995, the company acquired Vermont Research and became listed on the American Stock Exchange. In September 2000, the company acquired CyberStorage Systems and recently introduced a second-generation storage and delivery system, CyberBorg, with direct optical connectivity and data acceleration throughput of 450MBps.