HD industry walloped by key patent lawsuit

A patent lawsuit has just kicked off across the pond which could overturn the hard drive industry.

Rembrandt IP Management filed suit against both Seagate and Western Digital in federal court, alleging that most of their hard drives violate a pair of patents Rembrandt bought from inventor Uri Cohen.

Rembrandt’s chairman, Dr. Paul Schneck, told Ars Technica  that the patent infringement covers Seagate’s Free Agent, Replica, Black Armor, Expansion, Barracuda, Momentus, Savvio, Cheetah, Constellation, Pipeline, DB35, and SV35 disk drives.

Western Digital’s products which are involved in the lawsuit include the My Book line, along with Elements, ShareSpace, My Passport, RE3, Caviar, and Scorpio.

Yep it is a lot of both company’s hard-drive and it could just be the start of a lucrative wave of suing by Rembrandt.

At the centre of the row are patents 5,995,342 and 6,195,232 which cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads.

These are designed to minimise magnetic interference and are important for current high-capacity drives.

They were filed in 1997 by a man called Uri Cohen. The California inventor had a look under the bonnet of Seagate and Western Digital drives and discovered that they  were using his ideas without paying him.

He lacked the cash to fund a hugely expensive patent lawsuit in court. So he sold his patents to Rembrandt which has the cash to fund these sort of court cases.

The case will be closely watched by whoever is left in the hard-drive industry. The technology is apparently in wide use.