STEC, a designer, manufacturer and marketer of solid state drives (SSDs), said Tuesday that it has received notice of a lawsuit brought by Seagate Technology that allege the company of patent infringement. The company believes that accusations of the world’s largest maker of hard drives have no ground and will seek to prove this in court. In addition, it plans to seek termination of Seagate’s patents on certain technologies.
In particular, Seagate accuses STEC of violating four of its U.S. patents – 6,404,647; 6,849,480; 6,336,174; 7,042,664 – that cover solid-state mass memory storage device; surface mount IC stacking method and device; hardware assisted memory backup system and method as well as method and system for host programmable data storage device self-testing. All of the aforementioned patents were issued between 2002 and 2006, whereas STEC claims that it owned similar patents back in the nineties.
“Throughout our 18 year history, STEC has been diligent in its pursuit of industry-changing technology while entirely respectful of the intellectual property that has been developed by others. The allegation put forth by Seagate […] is simply not accurate nor in line with STEC’s long history of success and fair play in these markets,” said Manouch Moshayedi, chairman and chief executive of STEC.
The company, which was previously known as Simple Tech, declares that is one of the first companies to build SSDs, having designed, manufactured and shipped SSDs as early as 1994, long before any of the suggested patents were issued to Seagate.
Given the effect SSDs are having on the HDD market, STEC believes that Seagate’s lawsuit is completely without merit and primarily motivated by competitive concerns rather than a desire to protect its intellectual property. STEC believes that Seagate’s action is a desperate move to disrupt how aggressively customers are embracing STEC’s Zeus-IOPS technology and changing the balance of power in enterprise storage.
“In fact, STEC believes these allegations are in response to the competitive threat that we as a leading developer of innovative SSD technologies pose to the HDD industry. We view this action as Seagate's attempt to slow down the growth that STEC's SSD business is experiencing, particularly in the enterprise segment. We have a high degree of confidence in STEC's intellectual property portfolio,” Mr. Moshayedi said.
STEC intends to “aggressively pursue its defense to this infringement action”. In addition, STEC said it would also closely examine the patents asserted by Seagate as STEC believes it held such technology including prior patents, dating more than a decade prior to any of Seagate’s patents on the matter.
“Although STEC is in the process of analyzing the claims in this lawsuit, STEC believes that Seagate’s asserted patents pertain to technologies where STEC has years of prior experience and/or patents. STEC has significant patents related to SSD which have been developed through the decades of experience STEC has with developing, manufacturing and shipping SSDs,” an official statement by STEC reads.
The memory company also believes that many of Seagate’s claims are not relevant to SSD. STEC insists that it was one of the originators of stacking technology with patents dating back to the mid-1990s, while Seagate’s patent on this matter was issued in 2005.
Through this process, STEC will determine if Seagate is misappropriating any of STEC’s core technologies; STEC will take appropriate action to protect its interests, including seeking the invalidation of Seagate's patents.