by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 24th 2008 9:06am
Back in 2005, we pointed out that Seagate's CEO, Bill Watkins, should be worried about the future of flash solid state drives (SSDs) eventually replacing hard drives. It's taken some time, but those SSDs are starting to show up in laptops like the MacBook Air and the Lenovo Thinkpad x300. Reader Nick Burns points out that Watkins appears to be singing the same old tune, with one slight adjustment. For the most part he's doing the "nothing to see here, flash drives are still too expensive" song and dance -- but people who understand the inevitable march of technology (and how the innovator's dilemma works) are finally pointing out flash is getting much cheaper very, very quickly. So what's Watkin's response? If SSDs get really cheap, he'll just sue everyone for patent infringement. Yes, even though SSDs are totally different technology than a standard hard drive, Seagate's holding on to patents that cover "many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer." So, if solid state drives suddenly get popular, Watkins plans to sue. In other words, he'll use patents to stop the competition of a totally different technology. It's the same old story. When you're losing in the marketplace, sue for patent infringement. If you want to know the point at which Seagate has realized it's lost the battle, just look for when the infringement lawsuits come out. Just as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison envisioned.
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