HP Uses Compaq, DEC, Patents To Sue EMC For Infringement


EMC calls suit marketing ploy, while HP gets two of its patent numbers wrong


Hewlett-Packard used part of the intellectual property acquired from Compaq as ammunition for a lawsuit filed on Monday against storage rival EMC.

The lawsuit is the latest in the war fought between HP and EMC for dominance in the storage industry.

HP on Monday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against EMC in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that EMC's Symmetrix, Clariion and TimeFinder products infringe on seven of HP's U.S. patents.

Of the seven, one was originally filed by HP employees, two were filed by employees of the legacy Compaq organization, and two were filed by employees of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), which was acquired in 1998 by Compaq, according to a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent numbers of the other two were listed incorrectly by HP and could not be checked.

An HP spokesperson said HP and EMC have had ample opportunities to resolve the latest issue amicably, including the API exchange signed just last month between the two.

The seven patents, covering a wide range of storage technologies, are core patents for HP and have all been monetized into products, said the spokesperson. "These are not patents for intellectual property sake," the spokesperson said.

Monday's lawsuit is not related to current litigation between EMC and Hitachi, the latter of which supplies HP with its high-end storage arrays, the spokesperson said. EMC sued Hitachi, and Hitachi responded with a counter suit of EMC, over intellectual property issues in April. Neither is the lawsuit related to EMC's current lawsuit against StorageApps, a developer of storage virtualization technology acquired by HP in mid-2001, the spokesperson said.

An EMC spokesperson said that, since the lawsuit was filed on Monday, the company has not had a chance to examine it in depth.

However, the spokesperson said the lawsuit looks like a competitive marketing ploy. "It smacks of desperation," the EMC spokesperson said. "[HP didn't quote [Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, [President Michael Capellas, or [Senior Vice President and General Manager for HP Network Storage Solutions Howard Elias. They quoted Bob Schultz, a vice president of marketing."

The EMC spokesperson said storage technology was used as a major justification for the merger between HP and Compaq. However, the spokesperson said, despite full-page ads touting the synergy between the two in storage, that synergy has yet to happen.