Patent investigation could force hard drives off US market

This one's still a ways off, but the International Trade Commission has just launched a patent investigation into five manufacturers that could result in a ban on hard drive imports if the agency finds evidence of infringement. The patents, which are owned by Californians Steven and Mary Reiber, cover a method of using "ceramic bonding tips" on the internal wiring of the drives, and the couple claims Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell have all infringed by importing the drives. Much like the Qualcomm case, the ITC has a variety of ways of dealing with the situation and the parties have a lot of methods of appeal, but products that infringe on US patents are barred from being imported, so this initial determination will set off a lot of dominoes when it gets made in 45 days. Details are still pretty sketchy on what exactly the ITC is investigating, but we'll definitely keep you updated as we get more info.

Disclaimer: Although this post was written by an attorney, it is not meant to be legal advice or analysis and should not be taken as such.