Seagate Files Lawsuit over Trade Secrets

The company has filed a complaint in a Minnesota court attempting to prevent one of its former employees from joining competitor Western Digital.

Seagate Technology has filed a complaint in a Minnesota court attempting to prevent one of its ex-employees from joining Western Digital, a competitor.

Pete Goglia recently left Seagate Technology LLC to join Western Digital Corp., where he will lead that companys read/write head development after serving at Seagate for 16 years. Seagate is attempting to block the hire, claiming that Goglia will not be able to avoid disclosing Seagate confidential information and trade secrets in the course of his new job.

"This is a situation in which one of our competitors has recently acquired the read/write head assets from a bankrupt supplier, and has stated their need to strengthen their capabilities in that technology," Dave Wickersham, Seagates chief operating officer, said in a statement released late Friday.

"We do not wish to impugn Mr. Goglia, but only to ensure that Western Digital does not build its new recording head capabilities with Seagate trade secrets."

Seagates suit, filed in Minnesota State Court for Hennepin County, is asking that Goglia be prevented from working in certain defined areas of Western Digitals read/write head development organization for a limited time period to avoid a misappropriation of trade secrets.

Steve Shattuck, a spokesman for WD, based in Lake Forest, Calif., said the company was not prepared to comment.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about Seagates $33 million loss in the fourth quarter.

In July 2003, Western Digital acquired the majority of the assets held by head maker Read-Rite Corp., including its wafer fabrication operation in Fremont, Calif., and an option to purchase its operations in Thailand for about $95.4 million in cash. WD picked up the head operations to improve its progress in areal density, a key competitive advantage which is directly responsible for ongoing increases in disk capacity.

The heads business also ensures WD a steady supply of components, although the strategy also eliminates much of the price advantage that comes from buying heads from several competing firms, analysts have said.

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