Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:

Patent Holders Sue Everyone Over Hard Drive Patents -- And For Good Measure, Uses ITC Loophole Too

from the this-is-innovation? dept

A month ago, Steven and Mary Reiber apparently sued a bunch of companies over patents having to do with hard drives. The lawsuits were filed against Western Digital, Seagate, HP, Toshiba and Dell. I wouldn't have even noticed if this other bit of news had then crossed the wire. It seems that the Reibers decided that just suing wasn't enough, so they also decided to use every patent holders new favorite loophole to get injunctions without the courts having a say: asking the International Trade Commission to ban the import of products. And, of course, the ITC has now agreed to investigate the claim. Apparently the Reibers couldn't even wait for the court case to put some more pressure on these firms to settle. None of the articles make it clear what the patent in question is, but the couple appears to hold at least one patent on dissipative ceramic bonding tips. I have no idea if the companies in question are actually violating the patent, or even if the patent is legitimate -- but simultaneously filing patent lawsuits against a bunch of big name companies while also taking the loophole route certainly fits in with the typically questionable activities of patent holders who are trying to squeeze other companies for money, rather than ones looking to promote innovation. Hopefully someone has some more details on this case (or can get access to the filings). But, whenever a patent holder suddenly files a lawsuit against basically everyone in the space, it makes you wonder if the idea in their patent wasn't "obvious" to those skilled in the art from the beginning.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Michael Long, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 2:40am


    This is also inline with your post on double-dipping, since they're not only suing the hard drive manufacturers, but also HP and Dell who seem to be on the list for just using the offending drives in their products.

    In other news, Hitachi's stock price hit a new high today as...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 3:25am

    Let's review: missing words (hadn't, who), missing letters (ever instead of every)
    Is someone already rushing to get out of the office for the weekend at 2:31 on Friday morning?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Neo, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 4:49am

    We can guess what couple's portfolio tanked during the last go-round....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Oct 12th, 2007 @ 5:00am

    Questionable strategy?

    Assuming for a millisecond that the patent is actually valid, why on earth would you sue several LARGE companies at once?? They will only POOL their financial and legal resources and align them against you.

    Next time, try suing the SMALLEST company first, pray for a win and -THEN- use that judgment as leverage against the big boyz.

    And I wonder if the new "obviousness" guidelines are to be used when reviewing patents?? Or will they be reviewed only under the standard they were granted under??

    Sorry, blending posts here. Try to keep up, will ya?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    danzenie, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 5:08am

    pay for wasting time

    These companies with their lame patent suits should be force to pay for the waste of time/money that results from their foolish ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Overcast, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 6:09am

    Yeah, they need a real job or something. People are so whiny anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Brian, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 6:20am


    I was reading about this somewhere yesterday and I hope I'm remembering correctly, but the patent doesn't actually cover the HDDs or anything in them, the patent is over a process used during the manufacturing process--something like a cold soldering process (IIRC). This isn't like the Qualcomm thing where the patent was embedded in the final product.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    mark.simm, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 6:23am

    I think it's amusing that everyone screams "patent reform!" but as soon as the patent system does its job everyone is "whoa whoa whoa. hold the phone." just because it could change where they store their porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Rob Blatt, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 6:39am


    This isn't about patent reform, but the process and loopholes that are being used by the people who have the patent. It's the abuse of the patent system as an attempt to money grab, that is the problem here, not that a company is attempting to defend their patent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    inc, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    bring back the trade secret and dump these silly patents

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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