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October 1, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- HP, EMC Trade Lawsuits
- Sony First to Produce Laptops with Recordable DVDs
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3. CONTACT US
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1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Storage giants EMC and Hewlett-Packard (HP) traded lawsuits yesterday, indicating that the hotly contested storage market is entering a new phase. Early yesterday morning, HP filed a lawsuit against EMC, alleging that three of the Massachusetts company's products infringe on seven HP patents. Later in the day, EMC fired off a lawsuit of its own, alleging that HP is infringing on six EMC patents. The bad blood comes just months after the two companies announced an agreement to share storage APIs in a bid to create storage standards and more interoperable products.
"They have directly and egregiously infringed upon seven pieces of our intellectual property that are patent-protected," an HP spokesperson said yesterday. "One of the reasons why companies invest in \[intellectual property\] is that it gives them a competitive advantage. It's not cool when a competitor essentially rips you off."
HP's suit centers on methods for transferring data between two storage hardware devices; the methods reduce the number of times systems must read and write information, thereby increasing performance. The company is asking for unspecified monetary damages and for a US District Court in California to block the sale of EMC Symmetrix and CLARiiON devices that use the technology.
EMC says that HP is infringing on patents it holds for four EMC products, including Symmetrix and TimeFinder. The company is still reviewing HP's lawsuit and hasn't issued an official response.
From a competitive standpoint, the two companies are issuing statements the likes of which the computer industry hasn't seen in years. EMC spokesperson Mark Fredrickson told "The Boston Globe" that HP's suit "smacks of desperation," and "HP is under siege ... in the storage market." HP had some hyperbole of its own. A company spokesperson said, "We compete very hard with EMC, and we're kicking their butt right now." When HP merged with Compaq, the combined company edged out EMC as the largest storage company.
And the HP suit isn't EMC's only patent-infringement concern right now. In April, EMC sued drive maker Hitachi for violating several EMC software patents.
Today, Sony announced a new line of desktop and portable computers for the 2002 holiday season. And in an industry breakthrough, six of Sony's new laptop designs will include integrated recordable DVD drives. Beating Apple Computer to the punch by several months, Sony will introduce the DVD-RW- and CD-RW-capable laptops to the market later this month, the company says. Apple isn't expected to announce its long-awaited recordable DVD notebooks until January at the earliest, although the systems probably won't ship to customers until months later.
In addition to its recordable DVD notebooks, Sony will announce three new desktop computers, all of which include DVD-RW drives, software for wirelessly sharing digital-media files on a home network, and new DVD recording software called Click to DVD. The company says that the recordable DVD market is heating up. "One out of every four American households has a DVD player connected to their TV and even more have camcorders," said Sony Vice President Mark Hanson. "With Click to DVD, we've bridged the gap between these devices, making it very easy to create your own professional-looking DVD."
For Sony, a consumer electronics giant with few PC success stories behind it, 2002 will prove to be a banner year. After getting off to a middling start in the PC business years ago, Sony now has several intriguing new systems and market-leading designs that are turning heads and raising sales. The company's Palm OS-based line of CLIE handheld computers is also doing well, and Sony recently edged out Handspring to become the number two supplier of such devices, behind Palm itself. Sony credits its success to superior design and technology advancements: Unlike other Palm OS devices, the CLIEs feature high-resolution color screens and numerous multimedia enhancements. The company hopes to duplicate its successful CLIE model with its new line of PCs.
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