Nidec Sues Seagate For Patent Infringement For Hard Disk Drives

Plaintiff Nidec Corporation filed a complaint on Monday in the District of Delaware against Seagate Technology LLC, Seagate Singapore International Headquarters Pte. Ltd., and Seagate Technology (Netherlands) B.V. (collectively Seagate) for patent infringement, alleging that the defendants have infringed that patent-in-suit through its hard disk drives.

Nidec is a Japanese corporation specializing in motor application products. Seagate is a data storage company. According to the complaint, “(h)ard disk drives, or HDDs, are data storage devices that store large amounts of data either magnetically or optically on encoded discs. HDDs rely on a small precision motor called a spindle motor that rotates these disks at thousands of revolutions per minute, allowing a read-write head to move over the disk and read or write data. HDDs are important components of data center servers and PCS.” Reportedly, Nidec “is one of the major suppliers of HDD spindle motors in the world.”

Nidec alleged that Seagate infringed the patents-in-suit, which are: U.S. Patent Nos. 8,737,017 (the ’017 patent); 9,742,239 (the ’239 patent); 9,935, 528 (the ’528 patent); 10,407,775 (the ’775 patent); and 10,460,767 (the ’767 patent). In particular, Nidec stated that the instant action “relates to Seagate HDD products designed, manufactured, imported, marketed, distributed, promoted, sold, and/or offered for sale by Defendants.” For example, the defendants purportedly infringe Nidec’s patents via Seagate’s BarraCuda and IronWolf Pro HDDs.

For instance, the ’017 patent, entitled “Spindle Motor and Disk Drive Apparatus” is “directed to a spindle motor for a disk drive apparatus,” which purportedly addressed the need to “reduce the thickness of the spindle motor mounted in a disk drive apparatus” in order to “generate( ) sufficient torque and shorten( ) the startup time.”  

Seagate allegedly infringed at least claim 1 of the ’017 patent, which describes “[a] spindle motor of a disk drive apparatus.” Seagate’s Accused Products are disk drive apparatuses that each contain a spindle motor. Nidec averred that Seagate’s products utilize the information described in the patent. Specifically, the spindle motor allegedly has a base unit and a “stator that includes a stator core and a plurality of coils mounted to the stator core” as described in the patent. Additionally, the accused product also includes “a rotor magnet positioned outside the stator in a radial direction,” which is “fixed to an inner circumferential surface of the side wall portion of the rotor hub.” Nidec proffered that the defendants’ Accused Products also incorporate “a spindle motor that has a bearing mechanism that supports the rotor hub and the rotor magnet to be rotatable with respect to the base unit and the stator,” “a spindle motor where a height of the stator core in an axial direction” meets the height specifications described in the patent, a torque constant and a motor constant that both also meet the patented specifications. Consequently, Nidec alleged that Seagate has infringed the ’017 patent. The claims for the remaining patents-in-suit make allegations describing other components of the spindle motor. Moreover, the Accused Products can be found in laptops, mobile storage, external storage, and other products.

Nidec proffered that Seagate has directly, indirectly, and contributorily infringed and induced customers to infringe, which has purportedly harmed the plaintiff. Nidec has sought judgment in its favor, to permanently enjoin the defendants from further infringement, an award for damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, an award for costs and fees, and other relief.

Nidec is represented by Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP as well as Ashby & Geddes.