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EMC and Hitachi kiss and tell

Tearing up patent dispute

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EMC and Hitachi are kissing cousins again: they are to drop their legal action against each other and will swap APIs, the enterprise storage world's equivalent of exchanging precious bodily fluids.

Hitachi has signed a pre-nuptial agreeing to make "balancing payments" to EMC - no figures are mentioned. In turn EMC is to drop its patent litigation and its dumping complaint filed with the US International Trade Commission. The duo are to cross-license their technology for five years.

In April last year, EMC filed patent infringement complaints against Hitachi and its Hitachi Data Systems subsidiary, with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) and US District Court in Massachusetts. An evidentiary hearing in this case, scheduled for March 10, will no longer be necessary. A rival counter suit, arguing that EMC infringed Hitachi's patents, has also been dropped.

By swapping APIs, enterprise storage vendors give their customers the chance to manage heterogenous, proprietary technology more easily and more cheaply. In the past, EMC especially, but others too, made hay from technology lock-in. But in these straitened times, corporoates are less willing to pay the huge margins formerly demanded. With huge take-up expect4ed for new standards, Bluefin and CIM, the days of new sales of proprietary technology may be numbered. But there is a huge installed base which will benefit from vendor API swaps.

Yesterday, EMC signed an API swap deal with VERITAS, the most significant software storage player. ®

EMC and Hitachi today announced the settlement of all pending patent infringement lawsuits between the two firms.

Along with the legal settlement, EMC and Hitachi also agreed to exchange storage related application programming interfaces (APIs) and a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement.

Under terms of the agreements, Hitachi has agreed to make undisclosed payments to EMC. The remaining terms of the cross-license agreement are confidential. ®

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