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Targeted firm smacks back, chucks patent sueball at Overland

What do you mean we're the ones infringing YOUR intellectual property?

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Storage firm Quantum has bared its teeth at the T Rex of tape – aka Overland Storage – and counter-sued for patent infringement.

What's happening is that Overland Storage, on the hunt for royalty payments and/or licence fees and damages, had sued BDT, a Germany-based maker of tape automation devices used by many OEMs, for patent infringement. Overland also sued those OEMs that used BDT's kit, calculating that should an infringement claim against BDT prove successful, those OEMs would have to follow suit and cough up the cash.

Overland hired legal megalith DLA Piper on a no-win-no-fee basis. Dell and IBM have both settled individually with Overland already.

The OEMs involved are Quantum, Venture Corp, Spectra Logic, PivotStor, Qualstar, Tandberg Data GmBH and Tandberg Data Corp. Quantum is suing Overland in the same southern California district court used by Overland to sue Quantum; this really is legal tit-for-tat.

Quantum denies it has infringed any Overland IP and instead asserts that Overland has breached four Quantum patents in its NEO tape library and SnapServer product lines, namely:

  • US patent number 6,542,787, dealing with tape cartridge transport inside a library;
  • number 6,498,771, covering multiple tape cartridge magazines in a library;
  • number 5,925,119, covering a library's internal data transfer bus; and
  • number 5,491,812, covering the connection of a SCSI device to an Ethernet network.

Quantum's general counsel, SVP Shawn Hall, adopting an in-regret-rather-than-anger stance, said: "We firmly believe that Overland's claims are without merit and that they are the ones infringing our intellectual property. We brought this to Overland's attention, but, unfortunately, they made it clear that they were determined to pursue their lawsuit anyway."

How unreasonable of Overland. A person connected with the firm suggested Quantum was just having a hissy fit.

Overland has recently announced flash-enhanced SnapServer DX unified SAN and NAS storage products for small businesses. It has also appointed Randy Gast as an SVP for strategic alliances and client services, meaning responsibility for the world-wide support organisation. He comes to Overland from HP, being an ex-VP for a $2bn worldwide supply chain and logistics, via 3PAR. Despite Overland's years of losses and declining share price, Gast is convinced there is a future in the business.

Quantum has its own financial problems and doesn't want to increase its costs by paying royalties or licence fees to Overland. So the two companies' packs of lawyers are snarling and barking at each other in their practised legal manner, while the rest of us buy and sell storage gear, or write about it, and marvel at the US's curious patent system. ®

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