HP Hits EMC With Patent Suits

Hewlett Packard is suing EMC for seven alleged patent infringements.

Hewlett Packard Co. is suing EMC Corp. for seven alleged patent infringements.

A spokesman for HP, which became a top-tier storage firm earlier this year with its buyout of Compaq Computer Corp., said EMCs Symmetrix and Clariion hardware and its TimeFinder volume imaging software infringe on HPs patents for data transfer, data reading/writing and storage networking technologies.

"If EMC is willing, were looking to settle," said Bob Schultz, vice president of marketing for HPs Network Storage Solutions group, in Palo Alto, Calif. HP is seeking injunctions and unspecified monetary damages.

"We looked at EMCs preference for the courtroom, and then we reviewed our patent portfolio, and decided that taking legal action was the appropriate response," he said, referring to EMCs recent patent suit against Hitachi Ltd. EMC also sued StorageApps Inc., which was later acquired by HP. That suit has yet to be settled, Schultz said.

He declined to say when HP began considering such a lawsuit, but denied that the company intentionally waited until it had completed a trade with EMC for application programming interfaces earlier this year. Hitachi, which was also negotiating an API swap with EMC, abruptly ended similar talks when their own lawsuit began.

"There just wasnt the bandwidth to deal with it, [but] there certainly was the awareness" of the alleged infringements by EMC during the acquisition of Compaq, a source close to HP said. "Mark Lewis was aware of it.

Lewis was vice president and general manager of Compaqs storage division, but left to become chief technology officer of EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., after the buyout.

"We are reviewing the complaint now," EMC spokesman Mark Fredrickson said.

Such litigation can take years to settle, as in the EMC-StorageApps case. Meanwhile, "I wouldnt tell people to halt any buying decisions," said Dennis Martin, an analyst with Evaluator Group Inc., in Greenwood Village, Colo.