US may ban import of HDDs

Written by Phil Cogar

October 12, 2007 // 1:23 p.m.

Tags: #ban #dell #hard-drives #hewlett-packard-hdd #import #patent #seagate #toshiba #western-digital

Finding new hard drives in the US could get quite difficult in the near future. The International Trade Commission is planning to investigate five companies for manufacturing the drives using patented products. The companies being investigated are Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard.

The complaint was filed by California residents Steven and Mary Reiber under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which bans importing of goods that infringe on patents held by US citizens or companies.

If the investigation conclusively finds that the companies are in violation of the patent, the ITC could issue a cease-and-desist on the importation of the drives. The companies involved either manufacture the drives in question or sell products that contain them.

All could not be lost though. Even if the ITC rules against the five companies, an appeal in the US Court of Appeals or a veto by President Bush could overturn the decision. Qualcomm found itself in the same situation earlier this year when Broadcom accused the company of infringing on its patents for managing power consumption. The ITC issued a ban on importing mobile devices that used Qualcomm's chips but this was later overturned by the US Court of Appeals.

A reform of the US patent system has been called for by many over the last few years and the idea is currently making its way around the White House. A new bill was passed by the House of Representatives last month to update the law in a number of areas.

Which direction do you think this one will head in? Will the ITC ban the said hard drives or will they let it slip through the cracks due to the overwhelming need and use of them? Discuss your thoughts over in the forums.

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