Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Seagate May Sue if Solid State Disks Get Popular

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the sure-why-not dept.

Patents 242

tero writes "Even though Seagate has announced it will be offering SSD disks of its own in 2008, their CEO Bill Watkins seems to be sending out mixed signals in a recent Fortune interview 'He's convinced, he confides, that SSD makers like Samsung and Intel (INTC) are violating Seagate's patents. (An Intel spokeswoman says the company doesn't comment on speculation.) Seagate and Western Digital (WDC), two of the major hard drive makers, have patents that deal with many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer, Watkins says. It stands to reason that sooner or later, Seagate will sue — particularly if it looks like SSDs could become a real threat.'"

cancel ×

242 comments

holy cats! the world is changing! (5, Funny)

haaz (3346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845134)

we better sue to stop it, FAST!

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (4, Insightful)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845210)

To be fair, it seems like their plan is to sue to get a piece of it, via technology that they really did create. It wouldn't be very profitable just to stop progress.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (5, Funny)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845258)

What are the odds that their patent simply contains the phrase: "A mechanism for storing or recreating data created on a computer for later retrieval."

(Slowly I put the freshly printed page down...)

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (0, Troll)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845384)

What are the odds that their patent simply contains the phrase: "A mechanism for storing or recreating data created on a computer for later retrieval."
Not as high as the odds that they have actual bona fide innovations patented. Or are you making an argument that there has been no advances in how hard drives communicate with the bus? Perhaps your contention is that those advances were obvious? It's one thing to shill against business-method patents, but it's quite another to shriek at people just because they refuse to be communist.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845790)

What are the odds that their patent simply contains the phrase: "A mechanism for storing or recreating data created on a computer for later retrieval."

I'm sure it does, somewhere, because that is needed for an SSD to work.

What you don't know about patents is that a patent must describe everything needed for the invention to be implemented, but only the claims of the patent are protected.

Here's a simple example. You invent a new, super-efficient electrical transformer. Since electric transformers only work with alternating current (AC) and not direct current, the patent will likely say the words "alternating current" somewhere, but that doesn't mean alternating current is covered by the patent.

Until we can see the actual claims of this mystery patent, it is premature to say if they are valid or not.

The hard part of talking about patents is that most people have no clue what they are talking about.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846124)

transformers do worth with direct current.. it jsut reqires physical power added to mvoe the magnet back and forth - AC allows for the magnet to stay fixed and have the feild move instead .. there for being far more pratical - but transformers do work with DC .. it jsut isnt' the best idea

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845536)

Couldn't they just remind the companies that they own the patents and that usage will come at a certain price? This way the consumer is happy and Seagate is happy.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (5, Insightful)

trickonion (943942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845254)

One of my complaints about patents as they currently are.
Either they are violating your patents (sue), or they're not (don't sue).
You dont get to sit there and wait and wait until they make gobs of money in case 1.
So seagate, are they violating your patent? If so, proof please, if not, you yield all rights in case they are found to at a later date

Confusion (4, Informative)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845448)

So seagate, are they violating your patent? If so, proof please, if not, you yield all rights in case they are found to at a later date
I think you may be confusing patents with trademarks. Trademarks must be actively defended, where I believe patents on the other hand can be sat on for awhile.

Re:Confusion (1)

trickonion (943942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845512)

Yeah, its the sat on for a while I have such a problem with :)

Re:Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845530)

I believe the solution is to change the law to fix this obvious abuse.

Re:Confusion (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845588)

He has a point though, patents aren't encouraging innovation, they're the club companies use to beat each other over the head. Not being aware of infringement of a patent is one thing, waiting for a competitor to use something vaguely similar to something you patented and using that to destroy any competition is quite another. Vague patents that can be applied across all iterations of a technology shouldn't exist for this very reason.

Re:Confusion (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845692)

The point of this was to protect the inventor. So I can pattent a technology then I realize 5 years later when I purchased something I notice that it is infringing on my pattent. But this is a case of abuse of the law. Lets wait their and let our IP Dammages add up and then relly sue them for a lot of money. Vs. Oh they used our patent technology we should sue them to get them to stop, or insure I get part of the deal.

Re:Confusion (4, Insightful)

jmauro (32523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846126)

If someone is violating your patent, you know it and don't do anything; you'll lose in court. Rambus lost big this way when RSDRAM was clobbered in the market by DDR SDRAM. Rambus knew DDR SDRAM was violating their patents before it made its way to market and did nothing hoping to use lawsuits at a later time if RSDRAM was losing. The courts slapped them around for bit for fun and then said DDR SDRAM was in the clear.

If someone is violating your patent you need to sue now. Suing later just makes your job much, much harder. Especailly with the CEO of your company saying things like were said in the article.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (2, Interesting)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845782)

You are right, but the problem is that it can take a lot of money and time to find out if someone is violating your patent. How do you examine the techniques that other companies use to build there products? Or examine each chip in the hdd to see if they are violating some process of your own? There is no point in doing this to a small company or unimportant technology, but when there is a lot of money to be made, suddenly it becomes quite important.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845864)

There's been a slight fix in recent years. If you wait-and-sue, you may not claim any damages that occurred between your first discovering that the patent was being infringed and your initiation of the suit. That makes this announcement very good news for anyone infringing Seagate's patents, because they can take this article into court in a few years and immediately have any damages between now and the date they received the suit dropped. If they lose, then they will only have to pay damages that occurred after the case started and before today.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845872)

One of my complaints about patents as they currently are. Either they are violating your patents (sue), or they're not (don't sue). You dont get to sit there and wait and wait until they make gobs of money in case 1. So seagate, are they violating your patent? If so, proof please, if not, you yield all rights in case they are found to at a later date
Indeed. I would think they could apply to concept of laches [wikipedia.org] to defeat any claims of infringement. Of course, IANAL, so I don't know why this is not invoked.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845500)

Seagate will also make the patent on the first star trek like teleporter (this entails data transfer). What a forward looking company they are. Lets hope Khans group of supermen do nasty things to Seagates ceo.

Holy radioactive cats Batman!The world is changing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845526)

There... I fixed the subject line for you. Obviously you didn't read enough earlier Slashdot articles this morning.

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845532)

This just in... Peep show booths sue all webcam makers! :}

Re:holy cats! the world is changing! (1)

barwasp (1116567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846060)

Yes, and there will be no more Seagate for me - ever.
I refuse to support companies that try to limit my right to choose which technology is good for me.

Damn, my computer just started to stink.

Who was first? (3, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845208)

Occasionally I get to thinking that, with 6 billion people coming up with ideas, just because you're the first to send them to the U.S. Patent Office doesn't necessarily mean you're guaranteed the money for those ideas. While people are supposed to do research (including patent research) when inventing, it seems a pain to scour every patent for similarities or places where the patents are so broad, your new invention MIGHT fit into it.

Is it not possible that someone at Samsung came up with the idea before Seagate, but just didn't patent it? Or we could go by the saying: "Ideas are cheap." Just because you dreamed up an invention, why should you get some of the money for all the work put into implementation, marketing, manufacturing, etc?

To answer my own question, I suppose it's because otherwise, no one would report their ideas without a working model and/or contract with a production company in place. They'd never be able to make any money off it as it would be used by someone else if made known. I won't go on about how I feel about the mighty dollar/euro/rupee and how it stifles innovation...

So what about solid state disks 20 yrs ago? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845666)

DEC sold a line of solid state disks somewhere around 20 years ago, for which they probably had
patents but by now these will be expired. (They used the rejects from memory fabs, which they
called "the skim milk of the crop", and worked around all the bad bits to get usable memory that
was cheap enough to use.) Certainly one can use similar techniques to theirs (likely today with
better memory) and make solid state disks. No way Seagate or anyone else could patent that (once the
old technology was pointed out).

Re:So what about solid state disks 20 yrs ago? (1)

ufpdom (556704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845774)

Anyone remember SRDISK. Sizeable Ram Disk for DOS? A util that I use for my BBS back in the day to enhance performance.

Re:Who was first? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845940)

The real problem is that people are so damn greedy and backstabbing that we NEED patents in the first place.

And how fitting that the captcha word for this post is "bribing".

Re:Who was first? (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845986)

Is it not possible that someone at Samsung came up with the idea before Seagate, but just didn't patent it? Or we could go by the saying: "Ideas are cheap." Just because you dreamed up an invention, why should you get some of the money for all the work put into implementation, marketing, manufacturing, etc?

Patents used to be for specific implementations, not the ideas behind it wholesale as no one back then seriously thought you should have a monopoly or could even own an entire idea.

Re:Who was first? (2, Informative)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846054)

If I remember correctly, under the US patent system, the first one to come up with the idea gets the patent. In some other places, first one to file gets the patent.

So, I believe if you keep something a trade secret and someone else tries to patent that technology, you can acquire the patent by demonstrating you had the idea first.

Re:Who was first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22846136)

Occasionally I get to thinking that, with 6 billion people coming up with ideas, just because you're the first to send them to the U.S. Patent Office doesn't necessarily mean you're guaranteed the money for those ideas.

Ideas are not protected by patents, inventions are.

And actually, if your invention is new, useful and non-obvious, then you are entitled to file for patent protection.

And if two people independently & simultaneously come up with the same invention, then the first person to file gets the patent. That's the way it is.

In some countries (notably the USA), the first-to-invent rule applies. If you can show by lab books & other bona fide documentation that you came up with the invention before someone else, you get the patent even though someone else filed before you.

While people are supposed to do research (including patent research) when inventing, it seems a pain to scour every patent for similarities or places where the patents are so broad, your new invention MIGHT fit into it.

You don't need to. The validity can be sorted out later, if the patent has any value. It is much safer to file first. If it turns out that your invention has no value, or infringes on another patent, you can abandon your patent application.

Having worked in industrial research & development, many patent lawyers and research directors recommend that you don't look at other patents. Leave it to the specialists.

Is it not possible that someone at Samsung came up with the idea before Seagate, but just didn't patent it?

Sure, it's possible, and that is tough luck for Samsung. Otherwise everyone would claim that they came up with the idea first, and it is now impossible to get a patent under any circumstances.

Just because you dreamed up an invention, why should you get some of the money for all the work put into implementation, marketing, manufacturing, etc?

You don't. Those things aren't covered by the patent.

For example, lets say that you had a valid patent on the internal combustion engine. But you don't know how to make them cheaply and you don't know how to sell it.

When Henry Ford comes along with his assembly line, advertising and extensive dealer network, the two of you should reasonably negotiate on license terms or a joint venture on how to make the most money.

Or both of you can be dicks: Ford can't make & sell cars without infringing your patent, and your patent isn't worth much by itself.

Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (4, Insightful)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845214)

He's convinced, he confides, that SSD makers like Samsung and Intel (INTC) are violating Seagate's patents. (An Intel spokeswoman says the company doesn't comment on speculation.) Seagate and Western Digital (WDC), two of the major hard drive makers, have patents that deal with many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer, Watkins says. It stands to reason that sooner or later, Seagate will sue - particularly if it looks like SSDs could become a real threat.


Yeah, personally I'd like to see some actual specific patents rather than a CEO full of hot air making baseless threats. I'm sure Seagate has patents on storage device communication, but this article offers no insight on how SSD makers could be infringing. This is like the crazy patent claims Microsoft made against Linux (what was that? 184 alleged patents? More?) Examples would be nice.

Anyhow, flash prices may be dropping, but I don't see SSDs gaining majority marketshare within the next 5 years. Developers get lazy, cameras get more mega pixels, more people need digital video. Spinning disks are still massively cheaper per GB than SSDs, and unless the price were to drop dramatically, hard disks will still have the edge to keep the throne. Laptops may see SSDs sooner due to power, but I'd imagine that one way to forestall the inevitable victory of SSD would be more intelligent caching and a larger onboard cache for hard drives.

Anyhow, Seagate is worrying about market dominance, and the Seagate CEO makes vague threats that the lawyers at Intel and Samsung probably laughed off. Not that newsworthy in my opinion. Specific patents or litigation would be very notable though.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (5, Interesting)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845278)

I think you'll see SSD gain huge market share in the next 3 years. Magnetic disks will still prevail where there are huge storage needs through at least the next 5 years, but flash based storage will be cheaper and faster for storage capacities that you need to run your computer normally. I picture Dell selling computers with a 128gb flash based drive, and a 1tb magnetic drive. Laptops will be SSD exclusively.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (3, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845586)

Good point, especially since storage capacity is rapidly becoming more-than-enough for Joe User, just as processing power has (Web Browsing and word processing isn't exactly power-hungry). Some of you might reply "what about videos/video servers?", but (unfortunately) most NORMAL people don't have things like that - and for those of us who do, there's always RAID. It's only a matter of time before the extra-storage-for-less-money that magnetic media offers simply isn't enough to make it a better choice than SSD.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845976)

Yeah, well *I* picture every PC being a multi-terabyte RAID-5 array of SSDs that takes up the space of, like, one 3.5" hard drive and magnetic disks going the way of the dodo.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (4, Insightful)

Barny (103770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845322)

/me points at the date

Wouldn't it look good on the quarterly if the stock price spiked toward the end? :)

And yes, likely Seagate and WD have a lot of IP that they have inter licensed or at least have an informal non-aggression pact about suing each other over (kinda like amd and intel), whether any of it is current in these days of industry wide standards like SATA, SAS, SMART etc is another thing entirely.

When it gets to the courts, THATS when it will be worth reporting on.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845402)

I'd imagine that one way to forestall the inevitable victory of SSD would be more intelligent caching and a larger onboard cache for hard drives.

Actually I'd suggest they play their strengths rather than their weakness. Disks are never going to compete with flash on seek times. They'd be better off dumping the entire 'speed' thing to flash and moving backwards to slower rotational speeds and vastly larger platter area. Can you imagine 5 1/4 inch disks with todays data density?

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (2, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845742)

Actually I'd suggest they play their strengths rather than their weakness. Disks are never going to compete with flash on seek times. They'd be better off dumping the entire 'speed' thing to flash and moving backwards to slower rotational speeds and vastly larger platter area. Can you imagine 5 1/4 inch disks with todays data density?

This sounds like the mythical "near line storage" that tapes ceased to be years ago... A 5.25 full hight 3200rpm drive would be reasonably cheap, very big, quiet and power conserving. Not all that fast, but that is the point of near line storage.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845438)

This is like the crazy patent claims Microsoft made against Linux (what was that? 184 alleged patents? More?) Examples would be nice.

I know this is SORT OF off topic, and I am by no means on Microsoft's side in their Patent-War-On-Linux, but I CAN give you an example (albeit stupid):

Microsoft's patent on Long File Names on FAT/FAT32. Like it or not, it is there. To make matters worse, the Official Microsoft spec [washington.edu] has bunches of code snippets that it seems a lot of developers never care to rewrite. They even stick to the same variable names/structures that are within the spec. Now I am not saying this constitutes patent infringement, but it gets harder to say you aren't violating someones software patent when you are using the same variable names/structures/code snippets from a spec describing said patented code.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (2, Interesting)

znerk (1162519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845498)

... I'd imagine that one way to forestall the inevitable victory of SSD would be more intelligent caching and a larger onboard cache for hard drives...
Oh, so the way to fight these IC devices is by adding more IC devices to the spinning disks? Oh, I know! We can slowly phase out the platters, and go to a fully IC device! That'll keep us from going to a fully IC device!

Sorry, that fails the logic test. Seems to me that spinning platters are on their way out. Welcome to the solid state world.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845700)

Anyhow, flash prices may be dropping, but I don't see SSDs gaining majority marketshare within the next 5 years.

SSDs are fast already, and getting faster quicker. Except for the unfortunate problem with wear that wear-leveling isn't really solving as well as some would have you believe, an SSD with suitable capacity for a majority of users - especially business users - at an acceptable price with much higher performance may easily be here within a year.

And if they could solve the write wear problem with any of several technologies, rotating storage could quickly (3-5 years) become relegated as second tier mass storage for video and other non-performance related storage.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (4, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845828)

Laptops may see SSDs sooner due to power, but I'd imagine that one way to forestall the inevitable victory of SSD would be more intelligent caching and a larger onboard cache for hard drives.

I think you miss the best reason for SSD on laptops. That means with the exception of my fans, the laptop is all solid state. Which means I don't worry as much about moving it around while reading data, or gyroscopic forces. I worry about these things because I don't know excatly how they work, but I 'm sure shaking a spinning disk based drive is bad. And if I don't know, than I will arrogantly (but accurately) say that most people don't know. Hence, selling point.

Re:Doesn't even cover what they could sue over (4, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845992)

Yeah, personally I'd like to see some actual specific patents rather than a CEO full of hot air making baseless threats. I'm sure Seagate has patents on storage device communication, but this article offers no insight on how SSD makers could be infringing

I think its all hot air or at least is trying to gauge Intel's and Samsung's reaction because he's not threatening some small time business here. Intel probaly had a large team of persons compiling new patents on a daily basis and if push came to shove in court Intel would counter with their own set of patents along with Samsung's team and then Toshiba and IBM might jump in and the proverbial MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) ICBM's filled with patent experts will be landing lawsuits left and right at each others door until only the lawyers are left standing.

So no... Seagate would never want to actually go through with it because they have no idea what patents Intel might have that they could claim that Seagate is currently violating. My hunch is Seagate wants to calm investor fears in the current technology.

After all, even if Seagate won the war, Intel might just start making mother boards or CPU that have lines of code that say:

if $HDD_Manufacture = Seagate { do not boot & give error message "Faulty HDD! contact OEM" }

patents and copyrights (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845218)

were originally intended to foster progress, cultural riches, innovation

and now they are used as perverse tools to squash progress, stifle innovation, and make us culturally impoverished

not that any of this means there will be a social revolution, but i see the real possibility of a legal revolution. that is, the public simply ignoring the bullshit intellectual property lawyers invent in order to justify their existence

dear intellectual property lawyers: you suck. your entire field is becoming a farce. you write and interpret and enforce law that does not serve society, it only serves your field. i propose a mutiny and jettison of the whole lot of you useless parasites

Re:patents and copyrights (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846066)

the public simply ignoring the bullshit intellectual property lawyers invent in order to justify their existence We already ignore it. The companies in question just continue about their business oblivious.

Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (3, Interesting)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845222)

Can you sue about something so basic? I mean what about the guy that programed the Ramdisk.com DOS program that would let you use RAM as a drive? Why wouldn't that qualify as well?

Re:Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (2, Interesting)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845250)

Or the Amiga OS, which has used a RAMDISK since 1985?

Re:Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845686)

Wouldn't a patent from 1985 have expired though? (Which, I think, is your point)

Re:Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845348)

I mean what about the guy that programed the Ramdisk.com DOS program that would let you use RAM as a drive?

I just went to ramdisk.com [ramdisk.com] and they don't seem to give a hoot what you do with your ram.

Re:Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845394)

The gap of difference between the ramdisk and SSD is wide enough to say that the 'inventions' are different even though the idea is as vastly different as say the colors on new Honda Accords in the dealer's parking lot. In such cases I am against allowing patents for something that is an extension of existing technology unless the differences are vast. Okay, here is a hard drive interface XYZ. No patent should be allowed on other hard drive interfaces unless they are vastly different, different enough to cause the obsoleting of the previous work, or compete directly with it to split the market.

Have you ever noticed how a lot of new cars look pretty much the same? Hard drive interfaces are a lot like that if you allow anyone to patent minor differences. Oh, but hard drive interface ABC uses blue connectors instead of grey. Minor differences and logical extensions of existing patented inventions are things that make for bs patents. SSD is an enhancement to existing technology, NOT some "OMG, how did they think of that" technology. Back in '92 people were talking about that.

Logical extension of existing things: email on wireless devices, methods to store data on a computer, using RAM to replace the mechanical magnetic materials in hard drives, and on and on

Re:Can you sue about a "No-duh" idea? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845874)

Ding ding ding ding ding! You have just won the first flawed car analogy of the thread award.

Innovation... (5, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845226)

When companies cannot innovate, they litigate. They work hard to slow down the market so that they can catch up.

Re:Innovation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845436)

I just heard on a business station that litigation is the new innovation. So man your battle station, because to your consternation this new sensation will soon sweep the nation.

Thank you, I'm off on vacation ...

Re:Innovation... (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845996)

...to the Dalmatian Plantation?

Re:Innovation... (3, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845524)

Yup. Hence my sig. I'll make sure to steer clear of any Seagate drives when the time comes up to expand my NAS.

Give me the f*cking address (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845230)

Seagate May Sue if Solid State Disks Get Popular

Seagate sold me 4 of their stupid Maxtorgates (drives from the former maxtor factory) that failed immediately - and most of the replacements ALSO failed immediately.

The won't give me the address to send them the legal notice so I can sue their sorry asses off.

Their Indian tech support said "we can't do that!"

Get me the address - I want to sue on behalf of everyone who bought brand-new drives and had to pay the shipping to get replacements.

Re:Give me the f*cking address (4, Informative)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845276)

It's part of the warranty terms with the shipping.

Anyhow, the address is: 920 Disc Dr
Scotts Valley, CA 95066-4544


Disc Drive. Ugh.

Re:Give me the f*cking address (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845456)

That's the old address. The new address is 920 Solid State Dr.

Re:Give me the f*cking address (1)

ProphetNine (925957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845740)

meh... I LIKE it!!

Re:Give me the f*cking address (1)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845426)

Um, is this what you're looking for with regards to address information?

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/about/contact_us/ [seagate.com]

They own a bunch of other companies / imprints too. See Wikipedia for that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seagate_Technology#Corporate_affairs [wikipedia.org]

Google is your friend! (If only for searching things and not privacy, mayhaps.)

Re:Give me the f*cking address (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845776)

Add me to the list when you do.

Look elsewhere... (1)

Electrawn (321224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846098)

Unless those Maxtor drives were doing the click of death... I suggest you get a multimeter to your power supply for over/under voltage.

Thermal issues may come into play here.

If the firmware/serial numbers were near the same than it was probably a batch/fab issue.

(Former HD recover tech that had to deal with pallets of failed Maxtor drives.)

Is our patent system now unconstitutional? (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845234)

Quote article one:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Since we're now getting companies suing to prevent advances in the useful arts using powers granted through patent legislation, can we now find that contemporary patent law is a violation of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution?

And, yes, I'm aware that there's a lot of other stuff going on our federal govt. that's probably a violation of the letter and spirit of the constitution.

Re:Is our patent system now unconstitutional? (2, Interesting)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845388)

Even though you're marked redundant, I'll respond.

It's not unconstitutional because patents are granted to the inventors. You'll never see a business name in the inventor field of a patent--as, compared to say, the rest of the world where entities are regularly listed as the inventor.

Instead, patents, and in some senses a patent application, are treated like any other piece of personal property. That means that the owner can sell all or some part of the rights in that patent. Companies end up with ownership of patents in much the same way as they own anything else they purchase.

Before I get a bunch of responses that say companies just take the invention from their employees, I'll respond to that as well. Companies acquire assignment to inventions of employees usually by way of employment agreements, but this makes sense (in general). Your employer is paying you to do work. Since they're paying you, and you're doing their work, it follows that you're being fully compensated for your work (which includes your inventive activities).

Re:Is our patent system now unconstitutional? (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845446)

Since we're now getting companies suing to prevent advances in the useful arts using powers granted through patent legislation, can we now find that contemporary patent law is a violation of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution?
They are not threatening to sue to prevent advances. They are threatening to sue those who would commercialize on advances documented in their patents without paying them the royalties on those patents. Without patents all hardware would be commoditized. And that would mean the lowest quality players (the cut-throats) would always be the standard setters. Don't confuse business-method patents with patents on actual engineering innovations.

Poor USAians... (4, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845240)

This sounds like a typical software-related patent issue, as they are talking about the communication between the storage device and the computer. So if they sue, and are successful, then the whole world will be using SSD drives, except for poor old USA, stuck with the mechanical devices.
Now I am pro-patents, but software does not belong in the patent world. This could be the ultimate example of how patents stop innovation and technical progress.
By the way, I wonder how a SSD hard disk is really different from a standard memory card.

Re:Poor USAians... (0)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845314)

Too bad there's no (-1, Idiot) moderation... Troll is too good for this guy.

They won't of course (2, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845544)

There are several scenarios.
  • There are in fact no relevant patents
  • There are but the devices do not infringe
  • There are, Samsung changes the design, might have to pay back royalties but the effects will be limited as Seagate don't have SSD products in the marketplace
  • There are, design can't be changed, they do a deal
  • There are, design can't be changed, Samsung IP lawyers dig up some stuff Seagate is violating somewhere, they do a deal
  • South Korean company buys Seagate
For Seagate, the issue is to a certain extent that they can't piss off their customers too much. Apple for instance use lots of HDDs but they also want to use SSDs and Seagate doesn't yet have a product - and when they do, where will they get the flash memory from? Oops...just pissed off both customers and suppliers.

Mind you, I do like the Momentus drives.

"A patent is really a license to be sued" (2, Insightful)

tringtring (1227356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845246)

Arthur Clarke, in his last interview with IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org] - "I'm often asked why I didn't try to patent the idea of communications satellites. My answer is always, 'A patent is really a license to be sued.' "

Make love, not war (4, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845270)

It would probably be more profitable, and better for PR, if Seagate held private meetings with the other manufacturers to discuss patents and licensing terms. Explaining the issue and offering reasonable terms would bring them serious cash. Weak threats in a public forum seems a lot less productive, unless of course they don't actually have any patents to stand on.

Re:Make love, not war (2, Funny)

blakbeard0 (1246212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845442)

We are currently leveraging the value-added services of our core-competencies to fast track our performance indicators and beat the benchmark in this new paradigm. Our developers are thinking outside the box, so we can see the big picture. It's a win-win. -Seagate PR representative.

Re:Make love, not war (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845466)

But then how would they advertise on slashdot that they still exist?

Thanks for the honesty (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845284)

You will probably never see a major corporation admit that patents are largely become just a form of rent-seeking than this.

Re:Thanks for the honesty (1)

pacalis (970205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845762)

All corporations admit that patents are for rent-seeking.

Thought there are many theories on patenting, the most basic is that rents from patents create incentives for innovation.

It's not some "hide the rents" conspiracy.

Defend it or lose it ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845312)

Well, if they believe people are infringing on their patents now they need to sue now, otherwise later when they decide it's worth suing for, they might get reminded that if they didn't defend their position early on, it's all over.

But, seriously ... if I treat the storage as a black box, and I stick an interface in front of it which allows me to access it as the same kind of black box, where have I infringed? If I could make accessible storage before, and I still make accessible storage, WTF has actually changed?

As usual with some of this patent stuff, this just sounds like crap -- it seems to amount to an indication that if their share of the pie gets eroded too much they're going to have a tantrum. You can't just say "in two years we'll start suing all of these people for violating the patents we claim to have right now".

Cheers

Re:Defend it or lose it ... (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845598)

Well, if they believe people are infringing on their patents now they need to sue now, otherwise later when they decide it's worth suing for, they might get reminded that if they didn't defend their position early on, it's all over.

Eh? You're thinking of trademarks.

Re:Defend it or lose it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845842)

IANAL, but the legal principal of estopple [lectlaw.com] might apply when a patent wasn't enforced early.

Equitable estoppel prevents one party from taking a different position at trial than she did at an earlier time if the other party would be harmed by the change. For example, if after obtaining the paternity judgment, Leroy sues Donna for custody, Donna is now equitably estopped from claiming in the custody suit that Leroy is not the father.

Re:Defend it or lose it ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846070)

Eh? You're thinking of trademarks.

Do patents not have any such obligation? Surely there can't be a blanket opportunity to allow company to produce a product, wait until it gets successful, and then sue to say that someone is infringing.

Well, maybe not surely with the state of IP laws nowadays.

The sheer idea that they can basically say that if someone else's product becomes successful we will then start suing is quite offensive to the sensibilities -- something about that just seems plain wrong.

Cheers

Innovation (1, Funny)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845316)

Just another example of our patent system encouraging innovation...

How much could they get? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845338)

I wonder, if Seagate successfully sued for patent infringements, how much would they actually get? I mean, if the judgment were for $30 million, they may only see $29,296,875 of it.

Re:How much could they get? (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845910)

Depending on which side of the box you're reading, a thousand dollars may either equal $1000 or $1024, whatever is more convenient for us.

Is that how the IRAM-2 died? (4, Interesting)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845372)

Years back, Gigabyte released a RAM based SATA drive - the iRAM. This [google.com] is why folks were excited about it - just honking fast. It had limitations, however. 4x1G max capacity per drive, used (relatively spendy)DDR1 RAM, and apparently did not work nicely in a RAID-0 config when trying to bump the storage capacity. Still, RAM rather than flash is what I was looking for as a primary OS drive.

The next generation of IRAM [techpowerup.com] fixed my major pain point - allowing dirt cheap DDR2 RAM and allowing 8G max storage per drive. ... but it never released... (if anyone here knows of such a device, please post or email) Other drives are on the market, but they want 4 figure price tags. I don't get it. For those of us who can deal with having a hard drive that could 'evaporate' if it ran out of juice for one reason or another (disk images)...trading performance for the hassle... why did the DDR2 drives never make it out? Seagate wielding the patent stick would explain much.

Slashdot Announces (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845376)


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 6 months.

Please post some SUBSTANTIVE news, not TRIVIA.

Thanks and have Cheney_Bush_Rice_Gates_McCain-free week!

Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845392)

SSDD

Re:Yep (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846038)

That, Sir AC, was brilliant.

Too bad no-one will waste mod-points on an AC post.

This is what irks me... (5, Insightful)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845410)

We are gonna wait till it's popular, then sue. ----WTF is that, it's greed. Much like Gibson suing everyone and their mom's now that Guitar Hero is a big thing, if you have a right to something, bring it up as soon as it happens, not when you think you can maximize cash. Why is that practice even legal?

The "practice" has been perfectly legal and... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845784)

...actively practiced for 50+ years or longer. And it pissed people off back then as much as it does today. All that has changed is the length of time you can sit on your patent before wielding it, to avoid its effective nullification by Doctrine of Latches.

And BTW, Gibson's patent from 1999 does actually seem to cover the Guitar Hero game's "system and method of a simulated musical performance". Blame the USPTO and the current patent laws, not Gibson here, because Gibson is following the patent law pretty much exactly as the current patent law stands, to protect that technology to which they have a currently valid legal stake in.

I *DARE* them to sue Intel or Samsung (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845424)

Those are 2 companies that have VAST patent portfolios, I'm sure. Especially Intel.

I imagine that Seagate is violating some Intel and/or Samsung patents, in one obscure and stupid way or another. Seriously, Seagate doesn't have the juice to take on those 2 companies. Never mind that if Seagate really decides to start some shit with their hard-drive patents, I imagine that IBM will get involved, since they own most of the patents on the basic technology of hard drives. And we all know how IBM deals with people that sue them- they take no prisoners.

Re:I *DARE* them to sue Intel or Samsung (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845460)

I imagine that Seagate is violating some Intel and/or Samsung patents, in one obscure and stupid way or another. Seriously, Seagate doesn't have the juice to take on those 2 companies.

And, therein lies the rub with patents.

The big players can basically play "Mutually Assured Destruction" and reach agreements where they don't sue one another. There can be no little players, and no new entrants without a huge barrier.

How does this foster innovation and moving the state of the art forward?

Cheers

Where is Intel? (5, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845528)

Where is Intel in all this? They make the south bridge and MCH chips that talk to SATA drives. Are only Seagate and WD drives allowed to connect to them? Is Intel beholden to patent holders on the SATA interface? Why not connect future drives through USB 2/3 if SATA is patent encumbered?

I wish I could boycott Seagate for this (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845574)

... but I am already boycotting them for selling products that fail to communicate properly with the computer. Well, it's more like buying something else (WDC) that works better (especially in Linux). It's too bad that this abuse of the patent system leads to high costs of improving on the mistakes, screw ups, and often incompetency of others.

Re:I wish I could boycott Seagate for this (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845846)

What's this, "...fail to communicate properly with the computer" thing?

I use Seagate exclusively, after having had 8 (yes, 8) different WD hard drives fail, and I have experienced no problems in Ubuntu, XP Home, XP Pro 64, and Vista Premium.

Not saying you haven't experienced problems, mind you; just asking what they were because I don't seem to be experiencing any thus far...

Re:I wish I could boycott Seagate for this (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846138)

Same here.

WD in my opinion has always been "bottom of the barrel". I don't know if it's just a problem when they get imported into Canada or what, but I always have them die much to often. I've since switched to Seagate exclusively as well. No problems. Last computer was a 120GB drive, lasted 6 years no problems ever. Passed it on to a community house in my area for free after I bought myself a new system.

I feel that if this Seagate patent thing goes too far, I am going to switch to Samsung. I have heard great things about their new F1 line... and I am in the market for a couple 1TB drives. Maybe I will hold off a little while to see what happens.

Toshiba preps 128GB solid-state notebook drive (3, Interesting)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845600)

Toshiba preps 128GB solid-state notebook drive [eetimes.com] -- "While manufacturers plow ahead with notebook-targeted SSDs, questions are arising as to whether they deliver a performance boost significant enough to justify the higher cost."

So...

There's also an issue related to ROI.

Fun with Laws (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845624)

What I'd love to see is Seagate trying to examine their competitor's products in order to prove that they're really infringing. Their competitors invoke the DMCA, hilarity ensues.

Nothing to see here... At least not yet... (1)

exley (221867) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845668)

Being Slashdot I know a lot of people are just frothing at the mouth at the mere mention of the word "patent" but settle down. For starters, Seagate's CEO says he is "convinced" that their patents are being infringed -- offering no evidence at this point. So for now it's just bullshit posturing that may or may not materialize into anything. He could just be hedging his bets and making it look like Seagate has plans to protect their business to placate investors. With SSDs being an emerging technology no one really knows what's going to happen anyway. And what if it turns out that they do have a legitimate claim on patent infringement?

Sad (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845730)

This is just sad. It just screams one thing at me:

If we fail to keep our heads above the water by making good products, we'll sue.

And this time, it's not just some slashdotter seeing ghosts where there may not be any: this is straight from the horse's mouth.

If they think their competitors should not be using certain technologies, they should negotiate with them to come to acceptable agreements. If that fails, they can sue. Threatening to sue if their competitors' products become successful is...evil.

Patent law needs a trademark-like defense addendum (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845746)

If you (should reasonably) know that an infringing item is on the market, you must defend you patent immediately or lose rights to it. If Seagate suspects that the SSDs are infringing, they should be required to move now and not be allowed wait until the competitive item is successful.

speculation (1)

iamajs (1250848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845766)

He's convinced, he confides, that SSD makers like Samsung and Intel (INTC) are violating Seagate's patents. (An Intel spokeswoman says the company doesn't comment on speculation.) Seagate and Western Digital (WDC), two of the major hard drive makers, have patents that deal with many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer, Watkins says. It stands to reason that sooner or later, Seagate will sue - particularly if it looks like SSDs could become a real threat.
Notice Watkins never says Seagate is planning to sue. All the article quotes Watkins on is that he believes Seagate patents are being infringed on by SSD manufacturers. The article only speculates that the company plans to sue.

Prior art right here on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845780)

I have, in the archives right here on Slashdot, an article where I describe this kind of technology in 2002. Now, I don't know what the patents in question are, but if they postdate 2002, there's prior art right here on Slashdot.

The enemy of my enemy... (4, Insightful)

martyb (196687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845916)

The enemy of my enemy ... is my friend.

If Seagate pushes hard enough, they may find this out the hard way. They may be an 800lb gorilla in the storage market. But, even a large ape does not like getting stung by a thousand bees, and Seagate is waving a stick around a number of bee hives, in my view of things.

What if, faced with a potential lawsuit from Seagate, we were to see Intel, Samsung, TI, etc., get together and develop a new standard that bypasses Seagate's IP. They could license it to each other for next to nothing... except to Seagate... no soup for you. Sure, they'd like to be safe from a backlash in the spinning media world. But, given the rapid price drops on SSD storage, at some point the SSD media will be "cheap enough" for primary storage and spinning media would be relegated to 2nd tier, archival storage. Intel certainly has the smarts and the fabrication facilities to develop a competitor to anything Seagate might come up with.

Here's an honest question I've been wondering about for a while. Why don't we use GigE or 10GigE to communicate with storage? I imagine there's more overhead than with the currently used protocols, but how much are we talking about here? I'm more of a software than hardware guy, though I know a little about the different layers in the ISO model. *waves hands*. Build in a router on the motherboard, have a port for talking to the outside world and a few ports for talking to storage. Economy of scale and the hardware would be dirt cheap... right? Since it seems like an obvious idea, I'm sure I'm missing something. Would someone who knows these things care to elaborate? Tnx!

Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845970)

Posting anonymously for reasons that will be obvious shortly.

I worked for Seagate, and back in 2002 I tried in vain to get someone to listen to me regarding SSD. I knew even back then that our old platter/spinning disks/power eating motors/magnetic crap was doomed. I even spoke to people in R&D and told them Seagate should seriously investigate the possibility.. of course their answer was "it's too expensive, no one will ever buy those"..

Yup, again those amazing Phd's and MBA's were right.. oh wait..

Is This Legal? (2, Insightful)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846104)

I was under the impression that with intellectual property, if you were aware of a violation you HAD to pursue its resolution immediately, or else risk foregoing legal protections. The point of which is to prevent just what's being suggested here--waiting for a technology to become widespread specifically in order to profit more from the eventual suit. Am I missing something here? Any IP lawyers want to chime in on how this could be legit?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...