Hitachi Fires Back At EMC With Patent Lawsuit, Gets Sun Support


Hitachi fired back at EMC's patent-infringement complaints with a lawsuit of its own.

That lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, alleges that EMC infringed on eight patents owned by Tokyo-based Hitachi and its U.S. subsidiary, Hitachi Computer Products (America).

Hitachi Computer Products (America) manufactures some of its data storage equipment in Norman, Okla.

The company claims to own more than 1,200 data storage-related patents in the United States.

"Since EMC has chosen to compete in the courtroom rather than in the marketplace, Hitachi has no choice but to fight back with its own extensive patent portfolio in this field. Hitachi will hold EMC fully accountable for infringing Hitachi patents," said Isao Ono, senior corporate officer and senior group executive for Hitachi's Information Business Group, in a statement.

Last Thursday, EMC filed two complaints against archrival Hitachi regarding alleged infringements of patents related to its storage management software products, EMC executives said Friday.

In the first instance, EMC sued Hitachi Data Systems and parent company Hitachi Ltd. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for infringing on six patents.

In the second instance, EMC filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) to prevent Hitachi from importing into the U.S. products that use the six patents.

Meanwhile, Hitachi is getting moral support, and marketing support, from its biggest reseller, Sun Microsystems, which sells the Hitachi Lightning 9900 as the Sun-branded StorEdge 9900.

James Staten, director of strategy for network storage at Sun, said his company has lawyers looking at the situation, but he is not concerned about EMC's lawsuits because of assurances from Hitachi. "In terms of communicating to the channel and our customers, we have been passing information from Hitachi after reviewing it for legal issues," he said.

One Sun solution provider, who asked to remain anonymous, passed an e-mail to CRN from Sun with suggested responses to customer questions about EMC's lawsuit.

" '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," the e-mail read.

The e-mail went on to note that the U.S. District Court will decide whether to hear the case within 30 days, while the ITC has 45 days to decide.

Staten said he was not aware of that e-mail.