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HDD Giants Sued Over Patent Violations

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 41 comments

Rembrandt IP Management have subjected both Seagate and Western Digital to federal lawsuist, alleging that both manufacturers have infringed on a couple of patents Rembrandt previously purchased from an inventor.

Uri Cohen filed back in 1997 patents that “cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads”. After discovering that WD and Seagate apparently used his invention without compensating him, and realizing that he did not have the money to seek legal redress, Cohen decided to sell some interest in his patents to Rembrandt.

The patent lawsuit covers a wide variety of hard drive models, including Seagate’s Free Agent and Barracuda series, as well asWestern Digital’s My Passport and Caviar lines. How far will Rembrandt’s legal action go? A victory by the patent aggregator could force Seagate and Western Digital to pony up licensing fees—and perhaps encourage the development of more affordable and reliable SSDs?

Rembrandt markets itself as a company that helps independent inventors "commercialize their intellectual property in a way that would never have been possible if they acted alone." Yet you can bet this development will provide more ammunition for critics of the American patent system.

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  • 23 Hide
    AMD_pitbull , November 18, 2010 2:29 AM
    See, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it!

    Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    Parsian , November 18, 2010 1:45 AM
    wow is it me or do people just have remembered their ideas being used for free and that they can file a lawsuit?

    how many lawsuits have you read about this month?
  • 7 Hide
    sykozis , November 18, 2010 2:02 AM
    More than anyone cares to count....

    New Slogan: "The US Patent System.... Why turn a legit profit, when you can sue over a patent instead?"
  • 9 Hide
    Lutfij , November 18, 2010 2:17 AM
    wow, talk about one mans loss turning into someone else's profit
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2010 2:22 AM
    What a disgrace; granted people should be recognised for their ideas, but suing companies shows greed more than anything.
  • 3 Hide
    thillntn , November 18, 2010 2:23 AM
    It sounds as if the end user is about to get a price increase :( .Better go buy some drives before the ruling :) .
  • 5 Hide
    bison88 , November 18, 2010 2:23 AM
    The patent system is ridiculous along with copyright laws by standards shown to the public in the 1990's with emerging computer technologies to consumers on an unparalleled level. Yes, both laws need to be revised and "modernized" without being as heavily unrealistic as they are now. Rambus is a perfect example of abusing patents when 90% of its money comes from licensing fees from hundreds of patents. How a business can exist and produce next to nothing for the industry and world in general, is beyond me. Same goes with the Big Four whom control almost all of this nations entertainment. Raping artists of their content while with record ticket sales in theaters blaming pirates for a crappy movie not selling.
  • 23 Hide
    AMD_pitbull , November 18, 2010 2:29 AM
    See, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it!

    Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.
  • -9 Hide
    dogman_1234 , November 18, 2010 2:45 AM
    First Software...now Hardware.

    Good job America, you just let other countries look smarter...
  • 2 Hide
    aznshinobi , November 18, 2010 2:50 AM
    As long as SSDs get cheaper, I don't care who gets sued. Just don't let it be me.
  • 8 Hide
    spectrewind , November 18, 2010 2:58 AM
    AMD_pitbullSee, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it! Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.


    Don't be sorry. You're right!! [This guy really had it] > YUP!
    He's not in the wrong. These are the kinds of very legitimate things the USPTO is designed to function for. It's very simple: Big company takes advantage of a development by a little guy, and little guy does not have resources to combat it, so big company wins. This is not the first time.

    The only counter to this is of there is some sort of R&D covenant between this garage developer and the corporate body.


    Examples like "Superdude777" are good ones of perpetuating ignorance. The company is liable to this guy. That's why it's a PATENT instead of a TRADE SECRET.
    It would be more accurate for SuperDUD to make an argement against a company like RAMBUS over their lawsuit activity over the last 20 or so years.

    The other people in here are speaking the consumer language based on the predictable outcome of higher prices and how a lawsuit will affect them. I hate the idea of paying the additional licensing fee as well, although it does not make it "right".

    If the conditions of this article are true, this *inventor* is legally owed 20 years worth of a cut on whatever he invented (assuming a granted licensee to use the patent). It was new, it was novel, it was not a naturally occurring "thing". It is a machine (and possibly a process), both of which can be patented. He was issued a patent, and there is no known prior art. Period.
    I'm no lawyer, just have a small amount of engineering law background...
    I believe, for these corporations, the patent is valid for 20 years (terminating in 2017). I guess it was a gamble on whether or not this would continue undiscovered for the duration of the patent, not counting on things like terminal disclaimers, possible extensions, etc.
  • 2 Hide
    spectrewind , November 18, 2010 3:03 AM
    dogman_1234First Software...now Hardware.Good job America, you just let other countries look smarter...


    You got it backwards. Very....backwards...
  • -4 Hide
    anacandor , November 18, 2010 3:09 AM
    If nobody ever copied eachother then the secret to making fire would have died with the caveman that discovered it. Get over yourselves people, without copying society would get nowhere.
  • 9 Hide
    spectrewind , November 18, 2010 3:11 AM
    Seems to be a lot of people in here who will defend a corporation, in the wrong, because it will probably negatively affect purchasing prices.
    This guy is owed compensation.

    Lets throw this guy under the bus people! Right?
    If you were granted a patent and had a legal right to defend it, what would you do if it were violated?
  • 6 Hide
    ddragoonss , November 18, 2010 3:32 AM
    AMD_pitbullSee, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it! Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.



    It's called "Herd mentality". Don't get bothered, most americans don't "think" in the strict meaning of the word. They just "follow".
  • -2 Hide
    dEAne , November 18, 2010 4:16 AM
    Rembrandt again, I remember they for video patent and now with this HDD patent, I guess companies have to be very careful with applying their idea that already been taken.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , November 18, 2010 4:48 AM
    After reading the title, I immediately thought of the words patent troll.
  • 0 Hide
    K-zon , November 18, 2010 4:54 AM
    The probel i have always seem to come across in such issues is the lack of places to be able to file a patent without huge costs involved given all the places that could be sued cause of it. I can understand wanting to check to see if something has already been made and patented to search for things need, cause its cost and time saver, as i think is a good purpose for it, cause why worry about more then you need to terms of making and keeping a business going?

    It also put more of a burden onto consumers givent the companies gain more reasoning for control of product releases and cancelling. Which is wrong, also in terms of investors, and the market, it isnt so good, given that the prices are then raised to offset expenses to gain revnue in investments. And limiting jobs in the process and investment choices until a new product can be made or a deal on any settlements.

    Cause in terms of say on things investors and companies usually get the most go, given consumers just buy the products or use them. Also given, on the side of bigger companies, patents are usually filed yrs ahead of time as well, but given times of these measures usually miss some part of use and loss to it as well. Given the times at all times really, increases patents to be filed.

    Either way of such, alot dont matter in the end cause they still release products to sale to consumers for whatever reason to fit the needs or prior products.

    Also in terms of of things put limitation of things due to the legal reasons of means to use such devices and hardware given patents, especially ones in patent but that arent even made yet. Which is crap cause once the money is there its gone and further debt is applied to whatever part of a company or persons and no gain out of any further developments given the rights of patents are also all over the place.

    I think its more patent applicants need to do alot more as with the companies as well. Just getting there to do so is as much of a problem as either making the product or getting the filing of patent be used as intended for.

    Lawsuits do affect consumers more then probably should, cause i know as one being a consumer, in terms of being able to find ways to consume has been a trick of trades within its self.
  • 1 Hide
    catchercradle , November 18, 2010 5:16 AM
    I am on the side of the small guy in this one, unlike the recent farce covering my favorite operating system!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2010 5:19 AM
    So the question is did he invent it or come up with a concept and the HDD makers come up with the concept on their own. The problem I see with the US patent system is that if someone comes up with an idea that they can never possibly use they can ransom companies to pay for it even though the companies developed it completely independently of the original 'inventor'. If it is such a clever idea that no-one else could come up with then by all means sell your idea to the relevant company. If you don't have the means to make the idea a reality and don't try to provide it to those that can, you should loose your right to it. Otherwise patent trolls will forever prosper at the cost of the consumer and the general economy.
  • 0 Hide
    shrapnel_indie , November 18, 2010 6:04 AM
    Quote:
    More than anyone cares to count....

    New Slogan: "The US Patent System.... Why turn a legit profit, when you can sue over a patent instead?"


    Sounds better for one of the greedy patent lawyers out there.
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