updated 10:30 pm EST, Tue December 29, 2009
New testimony expected to revive patent case
A former Seagate employee has accused the company of destroying evidence relevant to a longstanding patent-infringement lawsuit initially filed by Convolve, according to The New York Times. The law firm's request to introduce new testimony marks the latest move in a legal battle that has remained in the Marshall, Texas federal district court for nearly a decade.
Convolve and MIT filed the lawsuit against Seagate and Compaq after the latter companies released hard drives utilizing noise reduction technology allegedly developed by MIT researchers and protected by several patents. MIT had been working on methods to reduce noise and vibration while retaining acceptable performance.
Seagate was reportedly introduced to the technology during meetings with Convolve, however the hard-drive maker first signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) worded to prevent infringement. The whistleblower, a former engineer named Paul Galloway, claims the development team was never notified that the company had signed an NDA.
“I was deceived by my management’s failure to tell me that the Convolve technology discussed within Seagate was NDA protected,” Mr. Galloway said. “If I had known about Convolve’s NDA with Seagate, I would not have worked on competing technology.”
Galloway also accuses his former employer of intentionally destroying evidence involving the software blueprints detailing the sound reduction technology. He also suggests there should be records of the meetings in which the company's engineers discussed using Convolve's technology, while computers containing relevant notes were allegedly removed.
A conference for the case is scheduled for January 20th, although it is unclear if the new filings will be immediately considered.