Rivals EMC and HP Sue Each Other for Patent Infringement

EMC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. last week traded patent-infringement lawsuits, claiming their rival's products illegally used technology developed by the other.

EMC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. last week traded patent-infringement lawsuits, claiming their rivals products illegally used technology developed by the other.

The lawsuits, which were filed within hours of each other, are the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter competition between the two tech companies, although the two did strike a deal in July to share APIs.

In its suit filed in U.S. District Court in California, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., said that EMCs Symmetrix and Clariion hardware and its TimeFinder volume imaging software infringe on seven HP patents covering data transfer, data reading/writing and storage networking technologies.

The company is looking for the courts to prohibit EMC from selling its Symmetrix and Clariion hardware lines and is also seeking monetary damages. An official at HP, which became a much larger player in the storage space when it acquired Compaq Computer Corp. in May, said the company is open to negotiating a settlement with EMC.

However, hours after HP filed suit, EMC did the same in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, claiming HP is infringing on six of EMCs patents for technologies in remote mirroring, replication and mainframe storage in the Symmetrix and TimeFinder products.

Mark Fredrickson, a spokesman for EMC, in Hopkinton, Mass., said that companies complaining of patent infringement usually show the suspect company the patents to demonstrate the merits of the complaint.

"The fact that they wouldnt tell us about these patents until [the day the suit was filed] leads us to believe the suit is frivolous and without merit," Fredrickson said.

A source within HP said the company didnt have time to deal with the complaint during the months after the Compaq buyout but added, "Mark Lewis was aware of it."

Lewis was vice president and general manager of Compaqs storage division but left after the merger to become EMCs chief technology officer.

EMC is engaged in lawsuits with StorageApps Inc., which was acquired by HP in July 2001, and Hitachi Ltd., which cut off negotiations to share APIs when EMC filed suit in April. Sharing APIs is important to enable software and hardware from different vendors to interoperate natively.

"I dont see any reason for us to be concerned yet," said Bill Gatewood, director of IT operations at Progress Energy Inc., in Raleigh, N.C., which uses EMC, HP and Hitachi technology. "Six months down the road, technologys going to change. Its a very small point. [Lawsuits] usually get settled."