Seagate Drops SSD Patent Suit Against STEC

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In April of last year, hard drive maker Seagate filed a patent infringement lawsuit against solid-state drive (SSD) developer STEC, alleging the company was violating four Seagate patents in its SSD products. STEC is a relatively small SSD developer, and Seagate implied that the lawsuit was a test case to induce other storage developers into patent licensing partnerships—Seagate claimed it had invested over $7 billion developing key storage technologies and other storage vendors needed to respect Seagate’s intellectual property.

Now, Seagate has reversed course, dropping all patent infringement claims against STEC. STEC has always claimed Seagate’s infringement claims are untrue and unsubstantiated; Seagate has not offered any reason for withdrawing the suit, noting only that the tough economy has limited STEC’s sales of SSD and makes an infringement suit a poor use of Seagate’s resources. STEC, of course, is claiming victory:

“This is an important development in light of the mass adoption of SSDs,” said STEC CEO and chairman Manouch Moshayedi, in a statement. “With Seagate having dropped its case against us, we believe the uniqueness of SSD design relative to traditional HDD technologies has been established. We have always contended that SSD does not borrow from existing hard-drive technology but rather offers an all-together new approach to storage. In addition, since STEC plays a major role in the proliferation of SSD technology, we view the dismissal as a vindication of our technology.”

The settlement did not involve any money changing hands or technology being licensed between the two companies.