A quintet of disk drive and PC vendors are being investigated by the US International Trade Commission as part of a patent infringement case.
The ITC said yesterday it had launched an investigation into Western Digital, Seagate Technology, Toshiba America Information Systems, HP and Dell.
All five companies were named by the IT as "respondents" in an investigation into the importation into the US of hard disk drive components and products using "dissipative ceramic bonding tips". The investigation follows a complaint of patent infringement last month by Steven F Reiber and Mary L Reiber of Lincoln, California.
A quick search of the US Patent and Trade Mark Office shows that Reiber and Reiber have at least three patents covering dissipative ceramic bonding tips, all of which describe methods of bonding wires in chip packages, including disk drives.
According to the ITC, the Reibers want "a permanent exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order" against the offending products. However, we're guessing a settlement with the offending parties would smooth things over nicely.
Yesterday's ITC statement was at pains to point out the launch of the investigation does mean the commission is backing the Reiber's claims.
It's not unusual for the ITC to get involved in patent disputes – it has been dragged into the whole Qualcomm/Nokia spat – though it does seem to have been dragged in early in the process this time. ®