Compaq and its storage media supplier, Seagate Technology, have been accused of infringing a disk drive patent.
Convolve, a privately held US company, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) allege that Compaq misappropriated Convolve's technology after it was demonstrated to both it and Seagate.
In a lawsuit issued to the vendors yesterday, the plaintiffs are seeking at least $800m in damages, plus a permanent injunction barring Compaq and Seagate from manufacturing or selling disk drives or computers incorporating Seagate's Sound Barrier Technology.
At issue is Convolve's technology, called Input Shaping, which reduces vibration in disk drives, and helps them perform more quickly and quietly. It was originally developed by researchers at MIT in 1989, one of whom later set up Convolve.
The lawsuit claims that Compaq and Seagate had agreed not to use the technology to develop competing products after it was demonstrated to them. The plaintiffs accuse the two companies of patent infringement, fraud, "tortuous interference" and breach of contract.
A Seagate spokesman confirmed that the company received a lawsuit yesterday and has yet to fully evaluate the complaint. "At first glance we are puzzled as to how Convolve determined damages of $800m when Seagate has not shipped a single disk drive with sound barrier technology," he said.
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