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Cornice to stop making 1-2GB 1in HDDs

Seagate drops Trade Commission complaint - but not legal challenge

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Hard drive developer Cornice has settled its legal spat with rival vendor Seagate, the company revealed to its customers yesterday. But it comes at the cost of the company's 1in 1, 1.5 and 2GB Storage Element products.

According to a mailing sent to Cornice's Asian customers, and seen by The Register, Cornice will cease to manufacture those drives by the end of the month. In return, Seagate will withdraw the complaint it filed against the company with the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

Seagate sued Cornice in June 2004, alleging that its rival had infringed seven patents. In addition to filing a complaint with the US District Court of Delaware, Seagate also asked the ITC to block the import into the US of products containing Cornice's allegedly infringing hard drives.

The Cornice document paints the settlement as a win: it says it has played down the 1, 1.5 and 2GB SEs ever since it launched the 3GB model in January 2005. Dropping the smaller-capacity products simply brings forward their eventual end-of-life status. Cornice will continue to provide warranty cover for the parts, and it is allowed to continue to sell off its inventory of the products.

However, there's nothing in the statement to indicate that Seagate's District Court action is similarly withdrawn - indeed, Cornice accepts that the matter is still outstanding and may come to trial in May 2006. Cornice may stop making offending drives, and may soon have rid itself of its stockpiles of the products, but Seagate presumably maintains that those products violated its intellectual property rights.

Cornice continues to claim that Seagate is wrong. Indeed, the company countersued Seagate, also in the Delaware District Court, claiming its rival's patents are invalid.

Cornice was also sued in June 2004 by Western Digital, which was promptly countersuit. However, WD dropped its case against Cornice in December 2004, ending the two firms' feud, a Cornice spokeswoman told The Register today.

Lawsuits aside, Cornice told its customers it will launch not only higher-capacity 1in hard drives later this year, as well as smaller form-factor products. The Register can confirm an announcement is due in a couple of weeks, before the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan at the end of the month. ®

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