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Cornice countersues Seagate

Hard drive rival's patents 'invalid', company claims

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Cornice has countersued hard drive rival Seagate, the maker of micro hard drives said yesterday.

In a complaint filed with the US District Court for Delaware, the Cornice asked the court not only to determine that certain Seagate patents are invalid but to rule that the latter's attempt to sue Cornice for alleged violation of said intellectual property amounts to an anti-competitive act and "tortious interference under Colorado law".

As a result, Cornice is asking for undisclosed damages.

Seagate filed its own complaint against Cornice in June, claiming that its rival has violated six hard drive technology patents. Cornice has remained tight-lipped about the matter until this week, refusing to comment on the original case, Seagate's subsequent demand that the US International Trade Commission ban the import into the States of all devices containing Cornice 1in hard drives and even drive maker Western Digital's lawsuit against Cornice.

Like Seagate, WD alleges that Cornice's 1in 1.5GB and 2GB micro hard drives contain technology to which Cornice does not have permission to use. WD maintains that Cornice has violated seven of its patents.

Cornice has pitched its products at the MP3 player market and other consumer electronics applications, landing deals with iRiver, Thomson, Digitalway and Rio.

Seagate is also targeting this market with a 5GB unit of its own. Hitachi's 1in 4GB alternative is believed to form the basis for Apple's iPod Mini. So far, the mini market is not one Western Digital operates in.

Seagate is banking that its own micro hard drive will reverse the company's troubled financial position. Declining sales and big losses last quarter resulted in the company ridding itself of 3000 workers. ®

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