Seagate lawsuit targets solid-state drive maker
CEO says, 'I told you so.'
Seagate has fired off its first lawsuit at a maker of solid-state drives since CEO Bill Watkins hinted last month that the company might be forced into taking such action.
The target is US-based STEC, a manufacturer of SSDs for big business, the military and aerospace applications. Seagate accuses STEC of infringing four of its patents that detail how drives connect to host systems to enable feaures like error correction.
STEC told the New York Times that Seagate hadn't approached it to discuss resolving the matter out of court, but it's not as if the company didn't have any warning. Watkins told the world last month that lawsuits might be the outcome if Flash drives become too popular.
Watkins told the NYT yesterday that one of his goals is to promote cross-licensing deals and partnerships, but a 'sue first, negotiate later' strategy doesn't strike us as the best way of making friends and influencing people.
Patent infringement fights almost always end in such deals, and Seagate's choice of STEC may simply be its way of sending a signal to the SSD arena's better known players - Samsung, SanDisk and Intel among them - that now's the time to come to the storage veteran upon bended knee.
"Anyways, I wonder who has the capacity to manufacture SDD in enough qty to accelerate the price erosion within a time frame that enables the capacity to continue encroaching upon hdd? Don't forget, hdd capacity growth continues too!"
You've misunderstood the market. None of that is relevant, nobody is looking to make more chips to sell them cheaper than they do and it would be arbitrary to think price per GB from HDD has to somehow correlate to different storage mediums.
SSD prices will come down fractionally per GB as flash chip bit density rises and die stacking tech becomes more mature. While HDD capacity will rise still, capacity parity won't be important because SSD in a capacity necessary for typical uses will be at an affordable price, so long as Windows 7 doesn't end up following Vista's trend of being all the more bloated than it's predecessor.
A generic answer would be, we'll end up with different forms of solid state memory chips that replace current flash technology before SSDs would ever catch up to mechanical drives in capacity and price simultaneously. They could already match capacity in 3.5" form factor at current density but the price would be prohibitive for anything except a special one-off custom built drive for a wealthy client (can anyone say NASA?).
By storage, I mean hard drives. If you have 5 corps that know more than Seagate on drives, please list.
"Even better would be if the company using the patented technology went to the patent holder - before releasing to market - and licensed the technology..."
You assume that the manufacturer actually knows what patents are held ! That's one hell of an assumption. Large corporations, and not so large, now use patents as a weapon - the idea being that if you hold enough of them, on obscure topics, with wide-ranging claims, then sooner or later whatever you want to block is bound to infringe on one of them.
OK, so all you have to do is read through the patents, or do a search. Ha ha ! There's thousands, if not millions, of current patents - so that's a problem to start with. And then you get to the scope - have you ever actually tried to read one ?
Note that Microsoft is a prime example of this, they CLAIM that Linux infringes on a couple of hundred of their patents, but will NOT say which ones - because if they say then people can a) apply to have invalid patents declared invalid, and b) just work around them. One of the useful things to come out of the EU documentation settlement is that MS now state which of their patents they claim apply to what bits of their networking.
The only better strategy is if you can have your patents violated by a standard - while "accidentally" forgetting to mention it while the standard is being drawn up. That way you have people in a position where they have to pay you to implement open standards - it's happened.
I would say that it's not practical to find out beforehand what patents may be claimed to apply - so realistically the only way to is carry on and wait till someone makes a claim. Hopefully it will be in the form of "by the way ..." rather than "here's your summons" !
Why no capacities above 1TB?
Something unusual is going on with drive capacities. As usual, the price of HDD capacity is dropping, but the high price points are not being filled with higher capacity drives. The recent arrival of 500GB 2.5" drives shows that the technology is not yet a limitation.
It's a long time since we used software like Stacker to overcome problems with HDD capacity. Maybe capacities are starting to outgrow demand, and people increasingly find flash drive capacities good enough. If so, it would not be surprising if Seagate now felt squeezed and started lashing out.
re: @me >> prev post should read @Doug
I take exception to your statement about Seagate knowing everything there is to know about storage. There are at least 5 corporations that do know a *LOT* more than Seagate. I wouldn't think they are even in the top 10.