Technology patent battles often drag out for years, and often out-live the disputed technology itself as major players either work around the disputed technology or simply move on to bigger-better-smaller-faster solutions that give them a competitive edge. One such drawn-out patent case involves Seagate Technology—one of the world’s largest makers of hard drives—and Convolve, a company that spun out of the MIT with technology that helped hard drives run more quietly without sacrificing performance. In a patent battle that has raged since (literally) the last century, Convolve has alleged that Seagate essentially stole Convolve’s “sound barrier” technology and began rolling it out in its own hard drive products without licensing the solution from Convolve. Seagate denied the claims, and the companies have been duking it out ever since.
But a new affidavit has the potential to put the case back on the map: the New York Times and other outlets are reporting that a former Seagate employee can offer an eyewitness account of Seagate tampering with evidence in the Convolve case.
According to the filing, former Seagate engineer Paul Galloway has offered eyewitness evidence that Seagate violated its non-disclosure agreement with Convolve by distributing information about Convolve’s technologies to its engineers. According to Galloway, Seagate engineers were never told about a non-disclosure agreement, and noise-suppression technologies Seagate went on to implement wee “influenced by Convolve’s technology.” Galloway also claims Seagate destroyed code for a disk dive it was ordered to produce as evidence in the case, and either withheld or destroyed information information on Galloway’s work computer about the technology, along with records of meetings between engineers working on the technology.
According to the filing, Galloway worked at Seagate until mid-2009 and contacted Convolve about the case only after leaving Seagate.
If the allegations in the affidavit bear out, Seagate could be on the hook not only for patent infringement, but subject to criminal charges for tampering with evidence.