Seagate Requests Reexamination of Convolve Data Storage Patent

Scott Daniels | February 24, 2011

Success can be fleeting in cases involving parallel District Court and multiple reexamination proceedings.  Last July the PTO issued a reexamination certificate confirming the patentability of the claims of Convolve’s U.S. Patent No. 6,314,473.  Convolve had sued Seagate and Compaq in New York in 2000, and Dell, Western Digital, and Hitachi in Texas in 2008, for infringement of the ‘473 patent.  Seagate replied to the infringement allegations, inter alia, by filing two requests for reexamination, one in 2006 and the other in 2008, both of which resulted in favorable rulings for Convolve.

Seagate has now requested a third reexamination based, in part, upon a statement made by Convolve in its Markman brief last summer in the Texas case and upon the trial judge’s claim construction that issued last month.  The ‘473 patent claims a method of controlling a disk drive through a “user interface” permitting the user to reduce noise levels by increasing seek time.  In its Markman brief, Convolve referred to the “heart of Convolve’s invention – that, through the use of a user interface, a user can have both a quick drive and a quiet drive in one product, and the user can control whether the drive operates as a quick drive or a quiet drive” (emphasis added).  Seagate now asserts in its reexamination request that this “heart” – alteration between a quick drive and a quiet drive – was anticipated by one prior art reference and made obvious by each of two others in view of further prior art.  Seagate also relies upon a broad construction of the claim term “user interface” by the Texas trial judge, to make the claims more vulnerable to the prior art.

Of course, there are two sides to every story, and serious issues remain to be resolved: for instance, whether the reference alleged to be anticipatory is in fact prior art, and whether that reference raises a substantial new question of patentability, even after having been cited in the second reexamination.  Certainly, more twists lie ahead in this case.

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