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Iomega lays siege to Castlewood in patent clash

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Iomega has accused rival storage company Castlewood Systems of infringing on its patents and trademarks in a lawsuit earlier this week. Iomega claims Castlewood's Orb removable hard drive system violates its intellectual property, and it wants shipments of the offending product halted plus a heap of monetary damages. It's an interesting case. Castlewood was formed in 1996 by SyQuest founder Syed Iftikar. At the time, SyQuest didn't appear long for this world, and indeed, while it managed to stay alive for 18 months or so, it eventually collapsed, terminally, late last year. Enter Iomega, which bought the company's mortal remains -- including its intellectual property. That seems to have been the main motivation behind the purchase -- it sure as heck didn't want SyQuest's remaining inventory, which is why it flogged it all off to Peripheral Computer Support last month. So, did Iftikar take SyQuest expertise over to Castlewood with him -- or did Iomega buy SyQuest's IP in the hope that he did and that it could later use it to crush a competitor? In the hard-boiled world of removable storage, either outcome is possible. What is certain, however, is that Orb is a better product than Iomega's nearest alternative, Jaz. It's more capacious, rather cheaper and faster, and with Iomega have a tough time selling Jaz drives and media -- hence its current financial troubles -- it clearly would rather not have to face any competition. ®

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