EMC claims patent infringement against Hitachi

Alleging that Hitachi Ltd. is infringing on six of its patents, EMC Corp. Friday filed a suit in U.S. District Court seeking damages for the infringement and also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission asking the body to block import of the infringing products into the United States.

The complaints, which EMC lodged against both Hitachi and the company’s Hitachi Data Systems Corp. division, concern six EMC patents covering the company’s SRDF (Symmetrix Remote Data Facility) business continuity software and its TimeFinder remote storage software, as well as data migration and mainframe storage patents, the company said in a statement. The patents at issue in the suit are 6,101,497; 6,108,748; 6,092,066; 5,909,692; 5,742,792 and 5,544,347.

The Hitachi products that EMC claims infringe on its patents include HORC (Hitachi Open Remote Copy) and HOARC (Hitachi Open Asynchronous Remote Copy), which EMC says infringe on SRDF, and ShadowImage, which EMC claims infringes on TimeFinder.

A number of the patents involved in the suit are “central, core patents” to both SRDF and Timefinder, said Mark Fredrickson, vice president of corporate communication at EMC, which is based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Hitachi, based in Tokyo, but with offices in California, did not return repeated calls seeking comment for this story.

EMC has been negotiating with Hitachi for four years on the matter, but filed suit Friday in District Court in Worcester, Massachusetts, due to “Hitachi’s unwillingness to resolve (the issue),” Fredrickson said.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) will have 30 days to decide whether it will proceed with EMC’s case, Fredrickson said. If the body decides against Hitachi, it has the power to “bar the importation of infringing products into the U.S.,” he said.

EMC’s complaint is the second involving Hitachi before the ITC. Mosel Vitelic Inc., a Taiwan company, filed an unfair trade practices complaint with the ITC on April 10 concerning flash memory and DRAM (dynamic RAM) sales in the U.S. by Hitachi and Elpida Memory Inc. Hitachi was also sued for patent infringement by Storage Computer Corp. in March 2001.

That Hitachi would be involved other such actions is no surprise to Fredrickson.

“This is a pattern for Hitachi,” he said. “This is how they compete.”