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US ITC Hands Seagate Patent Win

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 4:36am
Charles Schill, Steptoe & Johnson

Charles Schill Steptoe & Johnson  On Friday, January 30, the US ITC handed Seagate a big win by issuing its final determination on a major patent case, finding no violation of Section 337 by Seagate’s computer hard drives or the integrated circuits used in its products supplied by LSI Corporation. The complainant, bankrupt German company Qimonda AG, was unsuccessful on the four asserted patents that the parties took to trial before Administrative Law Judge Rogers. Qimonda AG withdrew three other patents just before trial.

The Seagate win is a game-changer for players in the industry. A loss would have had far-reaching consequences, adversely affecting companies which incorporate accused LSI semiconductor chips into their products.

The whole industry can relax, as this win confirms that Seagate’s hard drives and LSI integrated circuits will continue to be available to U.S. customers. The case, initially filed by Qimonda in December, 2008, marks Steptoe & Johnson’s 16th consecutive Section 337 win before the USITC in the last six years. Bruce Sostek of Thompson & Knight represented LSI .

Qimonda, clearly hoping that it could demand large licensing fees from a USITC win to assist with its financial woes, petitioned the full Commission to review all infringement, validity and domestic industry issues decided adversely to it on three of the four patents that went to trial. The Commission’s final decision cemented Qimonda’s loss.

Because the Commission affirmed all but one of the ALJ’s eleven adverse findings on the three patents, there are numerous independent grounds for a finding of no violation on each of the patents. Even on the one issue not affirmed, the Commission simply decided that it did not need to reach the issue and took no position on whether the ’918 patent was invalid based on one prior art patent. However, it affirmed the ALJ’s finding that the ’918 patent was invalid based on two other references.

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