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STK says product infringes on patents

By B.J. Plasket
The Daily Times-Call

LOUISVILLE — Storage Technology Corp. is trying to stop a Silicon Valley-based competitor from selling data storage products it claims are infringing on StorageTek’s patents and which “go to the heart” of the company’s tape drive business.

StorageTek last week filed a federal lawsuit against the Quantum Corp. of Milpitas, Calif., asking a Denver judge to enforce its patent rights on its Optical Servo system, which reads data imbedded on storage tapes.

In the complaint, StorageTek claimed Quantum is “willfully infringing” on patents granted for the Optical Servo reader in 2001 and 2003.

The Servo system, according to the suit, aligns a “read/write head” with the data tracks written on the recording surface of a magnetic tape and increases the data storage capacity of the tape by allowing the entire recording surface of the tape to be used for closely-spaced “data tracks.”

StorageTek also claims that Quantum last year filed two patent infringement actions against StorageTek on unrelated patents because it knew StorageTek would prevail in its infringement suit involving the servo reader.

In a statement released with the filing of the suit, StorageTek vice president and general counsel Mark Roelling said his company and Quantum discussed the possible infringement last year and that Quantum never mentioned infringement of its own patents during those talks.

“StorageTek entered into discussions with Quantum in October of 2002 on intellectual patents and property that go to the heart of (StorageTek’s) tape technology,” he said, adding that Quantum’s patents were never discussed.

StorageTek’s suit alleges that Quantum is violating its patents through the sale of its Super DLT drives.

The suit asks the court to enter both preliminary and permanent injunctions barring Quantum from infringing on StorageTek’s patents and asks for triple damages for the infringement as well as attorney’s fees and costs. It claims StorageTek “has been and will continue to be irreparably harmed by Quantum’s infringement” unless Quantum is ordered to stop.

StorageTek, based in Louisville, last year reported $2 billion in sales.

No court dates have been set in the suit.

B.J. Plasket can be reached by e-mail at bplasket@times-call.com.