Storage giant EMC has filed a patent infringement suit against rival Hitachi and its Hitachi Data Systems computer unit, seeking to block imports of some software products into the US, but analysts say the suit will not affect end-users.
The complaints were filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and a US District Court. They claim that the Japanese company has infringed four patents related to EMC's symmetrix remote data facility (SRDF) and TimeFinder storage-based replication software, introduced in 1994 and 1997 respectively, and two patents that relate to the migration and storage of mainframe data.
The Hitachi products in dispute include HORC, HOARC and ShadowImage.
EMC is asking the ITC to block imports of the Hitachi software which is sold in the US by HDS. But HDS service and maintenance of the disputed products will not be affected.
"EMC has every right to protect its intellectual property but it should be noted that end-users' systems are not at risk from the lawsuits," said Stanley Zaffos, vice president and research director at Gartner.
While still small compared to EMC, HDS has been growing its visibility in the US storage market in recent years aided by a key OEM deal with HP and, most recently, a co-branding agreement with Sun Microsystems.
The US District court will decide whether to hear the case in the next 30 days while the ITC has 45 days to make a decision. In the District Court action, EMC is also seeking unspecified damages.
EMC's infringement suits are restricted to US sales only, although EMC said it was looking into what international action could be taken.
HDS was not available for comment on the suits at the time we went to press.
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