San Francisco (CA) – Seagate, the world’s largest hard drive maker, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against flash-drive manufacturer STEC. In the suit, which was filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, Seagate alleges that STEC infringes on four of its patents. Seagate is seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.
It’s a classic case of David versus Goliath since Seagate has $12 billion in annual revenues while STEC made just $190 million last year. The lawsuit didn’t come as a big surprise to some hard drive analysts because Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins told a Fortune reporter last month flat out that the company would “sooner or later” sue flash drive companies for patent infringement.
Watkins has published an open letter saying that flash drive companies have taken “shortcuts in the race to innovate” and that they are relying on Seagate’s intellectual property.
But isn’t this a clear cut case of an established technology company trying to stifle an upstart flash drive industry into oblivion? According to Watkins, Seagate actually supports flash technology and wants to see it flourish and said, “This is not about stifling innovation or threats to our business from solid state technology. We welcome advances in this, and other technologies, and in fact we continue to invest considerable R&D funds and now have teams of people focused on the development of Seagate solid state and related technologies.”