The computer industry may be in for some hard times as the International Trade Commission (ITC) announced it will start an investigation into several companies that either manufacture of use certain hard drives:
There are currently five companies being investigated by the ITC, including Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell. All five companies either manufacture drives that use "dissipative ceramic bonding tips," or sell products that use such hard drives. These parts are used to bond electrical wires within the hard drive—while the ITC doesn't specify exactly which patents the technology allegedly infringes on, two patents that are owned by the Reibers, titled "Dissipative ceramic bonding tool tip," appear to fit the description.
Section 337 of the Tariff Act bars the importation of products into the US that infringe on patents owned by others in the US. This is the same stipulation that bit Qualcomm in the butt last June, when the ITC barred the importation of its EVDO chips, circuit board modules, and handsets that infringed on the patents owned by its competitor, Broadcom. At that time, the ITC said that handsets that were already being imported prior to the ruling could continue to be imported, but that no new chips or handsets could be brought into the country.
The Qualcomm ban sparked outrage among the mobile industry, with all of the major carriers—AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint—speaking out against the ITC's decision. Trade group CTIA also criticized the ITC over the decision, saying that it "unnecessarily decreases competition" and would "cause enormous undue harm to tens of millions of American wireless consumers." The same would almost definitely happen if such a ban was placed on products made by some of the most popular hard drive makers in the world.
In the worst case scenario imports may be banned but lets hope it doesn't come that far.