EMC, Hitachi Settle Patent Suit

Hitachi to make payments to EMC; storage leaders will share programming interfaces with each other.

Ending four years of stalled talks and an 11-month patent lawsuit, Hitachi Ltd. will make payments to EMC Corp., and the storage leaders will share programming interfaces with each other, both companies announced Tuesday.

For users, the new five-year patent-licensing deal and API swap means both companies can now build software to more thoroughly manage each others hardware.

Previously, EMCs ControlCenter and WideSky and Hitachis HiCommand could only manage basic parts of the others technology and resorted to ongoing reverse engineering for the rest.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to resolve these issues in a way that upholds our principles and encourages future innovation," EMC president and CEO Joe Tucci said, in a joint statement with Hitachi released Tuesday.

Isao Ono, CEO and president of Hitachis Information and Telecommunications Systems group, said in the statement, "We are happy to conclude this matter in a way that allows us to go about our business of competing in the marketplace."

The settlements financial terms were not disclosed. But the move stops the rivals from needing a planned March 10 hearing of the U.S. International Trade Commission. It also stops a related suit in U.S. District Court, in Worcester, Mass.

EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., began talks with Tokyos Hitachi four years ago, EMC officials said in filing the patent suits last year. EMC is still engaged in a patent suit with Palo Alto, Calif.s Hewlett-Packard Co., even though the companies are already partners.

"I think for the most part, these companies want to work these things out, rather than be caught up in court," said analyst Anders Lofgren, of Giga Information Group Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "In the absence of having standards, these API exchanges are… filling that gap," he said.

However, for users, standards like the Common Information Model are still unrealized, he noted. "Moving toward standards doesnt need to happen as quickly for them. If standards were right around the corner, why would anyone be doing API things?"

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