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Ancient Seagate lawsuit takes new turn

by on29 December 2009


Whistleblower backs Convolve

A 10
year old suit pitting Convolve in a David versus Goliath battle against Seagate Technology has taken an unexpected turn. A whistle-blower from Seagate has claimed that the outfit nicked Convolve technology and later destroyed evidence in the case.

Former Seagate employee named Paul Galloway has provided what is described as "an eyewitness account" accusing Seagate of taking hard-drive technology from Convolve and incorporating it into its own products. Galloway said that Seagate tampered with evidence tied to Convolve's nearly 10-year-old patent infringement case against the company.

Convolve's lawyers are trying to reopen the voluminous court record to include testimony from Galloway. It is not clear if the court will allow it. Convolve and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued Seagate and Compaq Computer over technology that reduced the noise and vibration generated by hard-disk drives. They wanted $800 million.

Boffins at MIT claimed to have developed techniques for reducing the noise of a hard drive without significantly impairing its performance. Convolve was formed to help market and sell this and other related technology. In the nine years since then, Convolve and Seagate have exchanged hundreds of documents under court-ordered discovery and filed myriad legal motions against each other.

Galloway was an engineer at Seagate until July 2009, and that he had contacted Convolve's lawyers after he left Seagate. According to Galloway Seagate's engineers began to zero in on improving the company's sound reduction features only after the company had seen Convolve's technology. Engineers did not know that Seagate had a nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, in place with Convolve that should have protected the technology.

Seagate had intentionally destroyed some of the software blueprints linked to products using the sound reduction technology, Galloway said.It had also removed the the computer on which his own notes about the technology were stored.
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