Ex-Seagate Employee Says Company Destroyed Evidence

A former employee of Seagate Technology claims that the company destroyed evidence that could have affected a long-standing patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by engineering company Convolve Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In a court document obtained by the New York Times that was filed late last month, the former employee, Paul A. Galloway, claimed in an affidavit that Seagate deliberately destroyed the source code pertaining to a disk driving using Convolve's intellectual property and "failed to preserve" Galloway's PC containing all of his work during development of the drive.

Galloway, who worked for Seagate until July as an engineer, also claimed that Seagate "withheld, if not destroyed, minutes of a server engineering group meetings used as a forum for disseminating Convolve's technology.

Seagate officials declined to comment. But Mark Tanquary, a former consultant to Convolve and a co-inventor on one of the patents in the lawsuit, said, "I think a lot of people were happy to see that."

The nine-year-old patent infringement case alleges that Seagate misappropriated Convolve's Quick and Quiet technology, incorporating it as its own Sound Barrier Technology .

Sound Barrier was originally used in Cheetah X15 hard drives in Compaq computers to make them run more smoothly and quietly. The software was developed using patented intellectual property under license by Convolve from MIT.

The Quick and Quiet motion-dampening technology was originally created in 1989 by three MIT professors, one of whom founded Convolve.

In July 2000, Convolve and MIT sued Seagate and Compaq Computer seeking $800 million in damages over its Quick and Quiet technology. The lawsuit also sought a permanent injunction barring Seagate or Compaq from selling products using the Sound Barrier technology.

In January 2008, the court ordered Seagate to provide all documents relevant to the case by February of that year.

Galloway claims in his affidavit that Convolve's technology was disseminated freely throughout his servo engineering group, but that those working on the drive technology were never told it was covered by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Additionally, Galloway said in his affidavit that he would not have used the intellectual property had he known it was protected under an NDA.

A court conference is scheduled to take place regarding the case on Jan. 20.

Lucas Mearian covers storage; disaster recovery and business continuity; financial services infrastructure; health care IT for Computerworld . Follow Lucas on Twitter @lucasmearian , send e-mail at lmearian@computerworld.com or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed .

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