RealTime IT News

HP Slaps EMC with Patent Lawsuit

Hewlett-Packard Monday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against storage device maker EMC .

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, target seven separate features in EMC's Symmetrix, Clariion and TimeFinder products.

The suit is in retaliation for EMC's patent lawsuits against HP's new friend and technology provider, Hitachi , as well as against HP directly through ongoing litigation relative to StorageApps, which HP acquired last year.

EMC, HP and Hitachi are three of the biggest makers of storage networks respectively.

Specific patents named in the HP lawsuit include: 5,247,618 (data transfer between storage media); 5,315,602 (reducing the number of reads and writes in a RAID environment); 5,327,658 (host computers coupled by a switching network to a storage array); 5,391,327 (method and apparatus for handling a disk failure in a RAID array); 5,917,253 (live AC mains power selector for a disk storage system); 6,269,453 (method and apparatus for handling a disk failure in a RAID array); and 6,356,979 (method and apparatus for presenting logical units to host computers).

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker said it is seeking monetary damages for past infringement as well as an injunction that would prohibiting EMC from selling the named products.

"We would prefer to compete with EMC in the marketplace," HP vice president of marketing Bob Schultz said in a statement. "EMC, however, has opted to pursue a lawsuit against one partners. HP has a responsibility to ensure that, as we compete in the marketplace, we are not competing against our own intellectual property. We have a strong patent portfolio covering storage technology and we will protect it."

EMC called the HP patent lawsuit frivolous and without merit.

"This suit smacks of desperation," EMC spokesperson Mike O'Malley told internetnews.com. "This looks like a competitive marketing ploy than a lawsuit. One of the reasons is that HPs' storage business is mostly vaporware. One of the things Carly Fiorina said in the Compaq merger was how strong HP's storage would be. Since then they have not been able to impress."

O'Malley said another possible reason for the saber rattling is the recent exodus of former Compaq storage czar Mark Lewis from HP to EMC as its new CTO.

Late Monday, EMC filed its own suit against Hewlett-Packard for the exact same patents.

Still, HP also has its own bones to pick with EMC. HP is still bitter about losing a huge life sciences contract with Celera Genomics Group and sister-company Applied Biosystems Group to EMC and IBM .

EMC's beef with Hitachi goes back to earlier this year when EMC petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. courts to block Hitachi Data Systems and its parent from importing Hitachi's HORC, HOARC and ShadowImage lines.

A few days later, Hitachi hit back; saying EMC's case is without merit and vowed to defend itself.

Once bitter rivals themselves, HP and Hitachi recently opened up their technology to each other in the form of cross-managing storage arrays through the exchange of APIs .