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7/1/2004

Cornice hit with second lawsuit

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — For the second time in a week, local storage device maker Cornice Inc. has been sued by a much larger company, accused of patent infringement.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Orange County, Calif., Western Digital Corp. accused Cornice of violating seven of its patents.

Western Digital’s lawsuit seeks to prevent Cornice from using what it says is patented disk-drive technology and seeks monetary damages from Cornice as a result of patent infringement on products that Cornice has already sold to customers.

Cornice spokeswoman Melissa Kutrubes said her company does not comment on pending litigation.

In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Western Digital Chairman and CEO Matt Massengill cited his company’s “34-year history, including the last 16 years as a leading hard-drive company.” He added, “We will not allow Cornice to unfairly exploit our patents, which are the products of the efforts of our team and the investments by our shareholders.”

Seagate Technology filed suit last week, claiming that Cornice had violated six patents related to its disk-drive technology.

Cornice, launched in August 2000 as Convergent Systems Solutions, was founded by Kevin Magenis, a former vice president at Maxtor; and Curt Bruner, formerly with Quantum and Intersect.

In February, Cornice announced it had secured $51 million in a second round of venture financing. The company remains privately held.

Cornice’s Storage Element, a 1.5-gigabyte storage device for use in a variety of consumer electronics products, has been a big seller for the company, and Cornice recently introduced a similar-sized device with a 2-gigabyte capacity.

Cornice employs approximately 110 people at its Longmont headquarters.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.