Hard drive shortage on the horizon?

Sure, you’ve heard it all before: manufacturing problems in an East Asian country could lead to a shortage of hard drives, take shelter in an underground bunker, etc. Well, this time around, it’s a little different. Apparently, the International Trade Commission (ITC) has begun an investigation into the hard drive manufacturing/purchasing practices of Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell (i.e. every major drive vendor). The charge? That all five companies use technology that infringes on a patent held by California residents Steven and Mary Reiber. According to the couple, the sale of such drives in the U.S. violates section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. But wait: there’s more. Apparently “Section 337 of the Tariff Act bars the importation of products into the US that infringe on patents owned by others in the US.” That means that any hard drives found to use the infringing tech might be banned from being imported into this country–and since the vast majority of hard drives used in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, that could spell some big trouble for little America. Could it really happen? Seems somewhat unlikely: As you may recall, the U.S. Court of Appeals stepped in to prevent a similar ruling on Qualcomm chips from crippling the wireless industry not too long ago. Still, if you feel like stocking up on hard drives and canned goods, go right ahead.

For more on the possible shortage:
– see this Ars Technica article

More stories about Hewlett Packard (HP)   Hard Drive   Storage   Seagate   Patents  


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