Cornice, Seagate partially settle hard-drive dispute

Cornice and Seagate have settled a complaint at the US ITC but another lawsuit on patent infringement will continue.

Cornice has settled one part of a patent infringement dispute with Seagate Technology over 1-inch hard-disk drives by agreeing to stop manufacturing the drives in question.

The agreement will see Cornice stop producing 1G-byte, 1.5G-byte and 2G-byte versions of its 1-inch hard-disk drive by the end of May, the two companies said in a statement. It brings to an end action being pursued by Seagate against Cornice at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which had been due to begin hearing the case this week.

The settlement doesn't affect two other lawsuits -- a suit and countersuit -- filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The spat began in June 2004 when Seagate filed a lawsuit that alleged Cornice's drives violated six of its patents. The lawsuit seeks to prevent Cornice from selling the drives in the U.S. and asks for monetary damages. Seagate followed this lawsuit with the now-settled ITC complaint in July. Cornice fired back in August with a countersuit against Seagate in the Delaware court.

A trial in Delaware remains scheduled for June 2006, the two companies said.

The resolution of the ITC lawsuit might be seen as something of a hollow victory for Seagate, which had asked the ITC to ban the import into the U.S. of the drives and devices that use them. Drives from both companies and their competitors are found in an increasing number of digital music players. However, the market is moving fast. Cornice had already begun to push drives with more capacity.

Cornice's current highest capacity model is a 3G-byte drive and the company is planning to launch a new product in the coming weeks, it said.

Seagate's highest capacity 1-inch drive is currently a 6G-byte model.

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Martyn Williams

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