Quantum, StorageTek Sue Each Other

Quantum sues StorageTek over read/write head and cartridge reel patents; StorageTek sues Quantum over optical media positioning patents.

Quantum Corp. and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek), each focusing on disk and tape storage, engaged each other in patent infringement lawsuits this week, officials of both companies said.

Both companies suits seek monetary damages and sales injunctions. Officials on both sides noted that settlements are common in such instances.

Quantum filed its suit first, Tuesday morning, in U.S. District Court for Northern California. StorageTek infringes on the Milpitas, Calif. companys patent no. 4,809,110, regarding read/write heads, and no. 5,474,253, regarding cartridge reels, said John Gannon, president of Quantums digital linear tape division, in an interview Tuesday.

The alleged infringement was brought to Quantums attention "just several months ago," Gannon said. Quantum decided to sue only after negotiations failed, he said.

Responding to the charge around the heads patent, "its a technology that [we] quit using 15 years ago," said StorageTeks Mark Roellig, vice president and general counsel, in Louisville, Colo. Concerning the cartridge issue, "we dont produce a reel that is like that, so our view is its inapplicable," he said.

StorageTek countersued in U.S. District Court in Denver hours after Quantum filed its suit. According to Roellig, Quantum is infringing on StorageTeks optical media positioning patents nos. 6,236,529 and 6,549,363, originally applied for on Dec. 1, 1997.

Roellig confirmed that talks have been ongoing since last fall and added that StorageTek approached Quantum about the optical patents first. "We did not reach resolution, and as a result it was very clear where we were going with this, toward litigation. So it was logical they came up with a lawsuit and sued us first," he said.

"Youve seen this time and again. Some people say when you get into suits, youre having trouble selling your products, so youre trying to find other ways to generate revenue," said Dennis Martin, an industry analyst at Evaluator Group Inc., in Greenwood Village, Colo. But for customers, "I wouldnt hesitate on any plans I had to buy, based on hearing about this."

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