Sony sues Fujifilm on 3M-acquired patents


Sony Corporation recently filed a patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Japanese photography and imaging company Fujifilm. At the center of Sony’s legal action are magnetic tape products marketed by Fujifilm which allegedly practice technology copied from Sony without a license.

In the official complaint filed by Sony, the company asserts a series of four patents, which it alleges Fujifilm infringed through the sale of the company’s Linear Tape-Open (LTO) format magnetic tapes, specifically generation four, five and six LTO tapes (LTO-4, LTO-5, LTO-6).

The patents being asserted by Sony are:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7016137, titled Tape Drive Apparatus, Recording and/or Reproducing Method, and Recording Medium. It claims a tape drive apparatus with a means for detecting inconsistencies in read/write operations which can identify potential tampering.
  • U.S. Patent No. 6345779, titled Data Storage Cartridge Having a Retainer for a Leader Pin. It protects a data storage cartridge with a new leader pin configuration which prevents the pin from becoming dislodged if the cartridge is dropped.
  • U.S. Patent No. 6896959, entitled Magnetic Recording Medium Having Narrow Pulse Width Characteristics. This discloses a dual-layer magnetic recording medium using magnetic pigments in one of the magnetic layers.
  • U.S. Patent No. 7115331, same title as ‘959 patent. It also claims a dual-layer magnetic recording medium which utilizes the characteristics of metallic pigments.

Three of the patents asserted here by Sony come from that corporation’s 2015 purchase of Imation, a company formed in the mid-1990s by American materials developer 3M. Imation’s work in developing magnetic tapes go back to the 1940s, according to Sony’s complaint. Sony’s lawsuit requests relief including a permanent injunction against Fujifilm to end its sale of infringing products, damages for patent infringement, and a judgement of willful infringement for enhanced damages.

This is not the first salvo fired by either side in this patent squabble between Sony and Fujifilm. This May, Fujifilm filed a Section 337 complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate possible patent infringement resulting from Sony’s sale of data storage tapes and cartridges. Fujifilm’s complaint lists a series of six patents which are infringed by Sony’s LTO-7 Ultrium 7 Data Cartridge and LTO-7 Library Pack. In June, the ITC decided to institute an investigation into Sony’s products based upon Fujifilm’s complaint. Last September, an administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding in the case granted a motion requested by Fujifilm to disqualify testimony given by Sony’s expert economic witness because that person testified on behalf of Fujifilm in the prior year.

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